The Government's new annual limit on non-EU workers, which some fear could create even more problems recruiting specialist chefs, comes into force today.
The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has previously warned that the cap on migration could result in closures in the £3b ethnic restaurants sector.
Under the annual limit, employers will only be able to bring 20,700 people from outside the EU to work in skilled professions under Tier Two of the system. A further 1,000 visas will also be made available to people of "exceptional talent".
The 1,000 exceptional talent visas will be given to those whom experts believe will make the biggest contribution to science and the arts in the UK.
Prospective workers will need to have a graduate level job, speak an intermediate level of English and meet specific salary and employment requirements. Those earning a salary of £150,000 or more will not be subject to the limit.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "The annual limit will not only help reduce immigration down to sustainable levels but will protect those businesses and institutions that are vital to our economy.
"The new system was designed in consultation with business. We have made clear that as the recovery continues, we need employers to look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country.
"We are overhauling all routes of entry to tackle abuses, make the system more effective and bring net migration back down to the tens of thousands."
The Intra Company Transfer route (ICT), which is not part of the annual limit, will also be changed in three ways:
â- Only those paid £40,000 or more will be able to stay for more than a year. They will be granted for three years with the possibility of extending for a further two; and
â- Those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be allowed to come to the UK for no longer than 12 months, at which point they must leave and will not be able to re-apply for 12 months.
Also, from today, Tier One of the Points Based System will be restricted to all but entrepreneurs, investors and people of exceptional talent as the old (general) category has been completely abolished due to widespread evidence of abuse.
The "Exceptional Talent" route will be open to current and prospective leaders in the fields of science, engineering and the arts in order to continue to facilitate those who have the most to offer the UK.
By Neil Gerrard
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