Government exploring short-term visas while skilled worker visa fees set to rise

August 16, 2023
Changes coming to UK work visas from Monday Hospitality job vacancies could temporarily be filled by under-30s from a select list of countries coming to the UK under a short-term visa scheme. The deal would enable people aged between 18 and 30 to work and travel in Britain for two years without the additional requirements of sponsors or salary thresholds. The number of job vacancies in the hospitality industry has fallen by 37,000 over the past year as of May, although the sector continues to struggle with staff shortages, with trade body UKHospitality stating vacancies were still 48% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Last month, the Times reported the Home Office had started discussions with a number of EU countries that could be integrated into the youth mobility scheme and would support domestic recruitment. The Sunday Times revealed it had obtained a list of countries the UK has started to target beyond Europe, including Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Chile. Non-EU member states Norway and Switzerland were also said to be on the list. Government sources revealed to the Times that the scheme has been designed to fill "‘transient' roles, such as baristas, au pairs and waiters" and would not offer "settlement routes" for people coming to the UK. However, the barriers to permanent hospitality jobs are set to rise as the Home Office pursues plans to increase the immigration health surcharge and the application fee for skilled worker visas, which typically lasts for five years. Overseas nationals looking to work in most hospitality roles in the UK, such as chef, bar manager and restaurant manager, need a skilled worker visa, which requires a minimum salary of £26,200 per year or £10.75 per hour. Business owners urged the government to "reassess" the proposed increase in visa fees for migrant workers last week amid concerns the UK will end up "losing out" on overseas staff. John Dickie, chief executive of BusinessLDN, which represents more than 175 London-based employers, including Compass Group, D&D London and Edwardian Hotels, sent a letter to the Prime Minister raising the issue that the UK already has "some of the highest costs in the world" relating to work visas. He said the application for a skilled worker visa for more than three years is set to rise from £1,235 to £1,480 per adult per year, while the increase of the immigration health surcharge is expected to go up from £624 to £1,035 per adult per year. Dickie added: "At a time when businesses face a difficult economic outlook and are struggling with significant skills gaps, this measure undermines our competitiveness when it comes to attracting top talent compared to other countries." A Home Office spokesperson said: "It is right and fair to increase the Immigration Health Surcharge and visa application fees so we can fund vital public services and allow wider funding to contribute to public sector pay."