Indian chefs may be hit by UK immigration rules
Posted on July 22, 2015
LONDON: Thousands of chefs from India may be forced to leave the UK as the new salary threshold of 35,000 pounds comes into force from next year, threatening the status of Indian food or curry which is popularly referred as the country’s national dish.
“We are already struggling in this industry and this would only make matters worse. There is already a shortage of Indian chefs. The new rules will affect jobs and create a big mess,” said Amin Ali, founder of Red Fort – one of London’s most famous Indian restaurants.
“London is the capital of the restaurant world and a good Indian restaurant requires trained chefs from India. What the government fails to see is that for every chef we bring in at least 10 more jobs are created locally in the form of his support staff. The new rules are extremely short-sighted,” he warned.
Britain’s curry industry is estimated to be worth around 3.6 billion pounds with thousands of curry houses and takeaways around the country. The new salary threshold of 35,000 pounds a year comes into force from April, 2016.
The UK government’s view has been that Indian restaurateurs’ children must train in their parents’ profession but Ali explains: “One of my daughters is a PhD and one an economist. They have their own choices to make in life. We can’t force them into a profession. And hiring locally becomes equally difficult because it is a very culture-specific skill.”
Lobbying in the past had succeeded in chefs being retained on Britain’s shortage occupation list, giving it a slightly lower minimum salary threshold of 29,570 pounds. However, further stipulations state that if a restaurant offers any takeaway service the lower threshold is nullified.
“At least 99 per cent of all Indian restaurants have a takeaway facility – it’s the business model that has been used for 50 to 60 years. Our restaurants can’t sustain themselves financially without that,” said Enam Ali, founder of the British Curry Awards.
He warns that the new rules would leave over 100,000 people without jobs.
“It’s all about the policy and that policy needs to be reformed, otherwise the industry is going to go down,” he added.
Under the new immigration rules, the Tier-2 category of migrants from non-European countries – which includes nurses and chefs – must fulfill a higher salary threshold to be able to work in the country.
The UK’s Royal College of Nursing had recently warned of being at risk of losing nearly 30,000 nurses in the process, which includes a large chunk from India.
The cut-off date for the new rules has been set at 2011, which means that the first batch of nurses and chefs earning less than the minimum threshold will be sent home in 2017.