Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Demystified: A Guide for Restaurant and Hotel Employers.

Matt RowleyRhubarb Recruitment

Help! I can’t find any hospitality staff.

For many years the UK’s Hospitality industry relied on European labour migration into the UK as a major source of workforce talent. With BREXIT, this workforce migration was effectively cut off overnight, and the industry has been left grappling with major staff shortages ever since. This problem has been compounded by the PANDEMIC, which saw many Hospitality workers retraining into other industries offering better salaries, work patterns and quality of life.

I’m an employer, where can I find Hospitality Staff, post Brexit 2023?

The traditional avenues used to find hospitality staff for your business still exist:

  1. Online Job Portals: Websites like Indeed, Caterer.com, and Reed are dedicated job portals that cater specifically to the hospitality industry. These platforms allow you to advertise job vacancies, review resumes, and connect with potential candidates. Good job boards are costly, and you are not guaranteed to find the talent you are looking for.
  2. Recruitment Agencies: There are numerous hospitality recruitment agencies in the UK that specialise in searching for restaurant staff, hotel staff, and bar staff. Many of the best hospitality and chef recruitment agencies are based in London, but they can also be found dotted around the UK. These specialist agencies generally have access to a pool of qualified candidates. Rhubarb Recruitment is one of these with an extensive 20+ years of experience operating as a specialist Hospitality Agency, placing qualified talent into hospitality job vacancies, from Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands, and everywhere in between.
  3. Social Media Platforms: Utilise social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to post job vacancies or join relevant hospitality industry groups. These platforms offer wide reach and allow you to engage with potential candidates directly. Social media groups can be particularly good if you are sourcing temporary chef cover for your business.

But why am I not receiving many applications?

Whichever avenue you use to source your talent, you’ll soon realise one stark fact… there are not many applications coming into your inbox these days! Unless the UK Government decides to open up the free movement of workers from the EEA again (which, at the time of writing is not looking likely), then Hospitality Recruiters and Employers have no option but to start to look outside of the UK for hospitality talent.

This is where the UK Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship scheme comes into play.

Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship for Skilled Workers from overseas.

Put quite simply; Skilled Worker Visa Sponsorship opens up a vast, otherwise untouchable, pool of skilled workers to recruit from.

But isn’t it very costly and complicated for an Employer to become a Visa Sponsor? The latest news on this subject is better than you may think!

With hospitality staff shortages at an all-time high, there has never been a greater need for British Hospitality and Catering Employers to be given a little help untangling and demystifying the UK’s Tier 2 Employer Visa Sponsorship process.

Many Employers are put off before even starting, by what they imagine is going to be an overly complex application process, and prohibitive administration costs. But there is good news at hand for the many restaurant, hotel and bar employers struggling to find chefs, waiters, hotel reception staff and more; and so maybe it’s now time to think again about finding staff from overseas!

  • How much does an employer sponsor licence cost?
  • How long does it take to get an employer sponsor licence?
  • Is it complicated to get a Tier 2 Skilled worker-employer sponsor licence?
  • What kind of companies can get an Employer Sponsor Licence?
  • Can I hire chefs with a skilled workers visa in the UK?
  • I have been told it’s super hard and expensive to obtain an Employer Sponsor Licence, is it true?

If you have questions like these, you’ll be pleased to know that there is affordable help at hand.

Myth & Mystery

There is much myth and mystery surrounding what is involved in obtaining an Employer Sponsor Licence, for example how long it takes, and how much it costs. Often employers are put off by the thought of mountains of complicated paperwork, and the thoughts of a process drawn out over many months, and costing many thousands of pounds. Many business owners are put off by these worries, way before properly investigating the real viability of obtaining a sponsorship licence.

There is help at hand and it doesn’t cost the earth

Thankfully, in the last 2 years, there has been an explosion of very affordable specialist Visa and Immigration Agents in the UK. These immigration agents (who are in fact Immigration Lawyers, by trade), take almost all of the work away from the employer. For a modest fee of around £1,500 plus VAT, companies like Cranbrook Legal in London are now readily available to help guide employers through the whole process, taking onboard almost all of the workload involved. With additional options for fast-tracking, the process can be completed by these agents in as little as 10 days; and thus moving much of the work and stress away from the employer, and the whole process a viable, swift, and straightforward proposition – for even small independent Hospitality & Catering operators.

How long does a Skilled Worker Sponsor Application take?

Application time: 10 days from the time of application when using the Home Office fast-track service, or within 8 weeks using the standard application.

How long does a Skilled Worker Visa application take?

Application time: Usually within 3 weeks from the time of application.

Facts summary

  • Total time required for the whole process (1. Employer Sponsor Application and 2. Candidate Visa Application): 4-6 weeks.
  • Total cost of the Employer Sponsor Application: £2,561 including all fees (paid by the Employer).
  • Total cost of the Employee Visa Application: £5,588 based on a 3-year VISA (normally paid by the Employee).

The process in more detail:

Stage 1: Secure an Employer Sponsor Licence in 10 days (with a fast-track fee) *

This licence allows you as the Employer to sponsor worker Visa application(s).

Costs (payable by Employer)

Average agency fees £1,500 + VAT
Home Office application fee £536
Home office fast track fee (10 days) £500
Anti-Money Laundering Checks £25 + VAT
Total                      £2,561

* Application time: Usually within 8 weeks from the time of application or 10 days using the Home Office fast-track service.

Stage 2: Find the person you want to sponsor (Click here to find out about how Rhubarb Recruitment’s Employer Services can help you)

Stage 3: Secure a Skilled Worker Visa for the Employee in 21 days **

(Costs are usually paid by the employee, but sometimes the employer chooses to contribute in part)

Average Agency fee for submitting your Skilled Worker and Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Application £1,500 + VAT
Assignment/Allocation of CoS £199
Home Office Immigration Skills Charge (Small Organisation) per Year of the Visa Applied for £364
Home Office Visa Application Fee £625 or £719 Per Person (3 Year Visa) OR £1,235 or £1,423 Per Person (4/5 Year Visa)
Home Office Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) Adult: £624 Per Year Of the Visa [payable by the employee]

** Application time: Usually within 3 weeks from the time of application.

What are the benefits of offering Visa Sponsorship for foreign workers?

  • Sponsoring a skilled worker visa application expands the talent pool and allows access to highly skilled professionals from around the world.
  • It enables businesses to fill crucial roles that may be difficult to find domestically, enhancing competitiveness and innovation potential.
  • Sponsoring a skilled worker visa demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion, fostering a global perspective within the workforce.
  • It promotes cross-cultural exchange and brings fresh ideas to the organization.
  • By attracting talented individuals with specialized expertise, businesses can drive growth and expand their networks.
  • Sponsoring a visa can lead to long-term loyalty and dedication from the sponsored employee.
  • Employees appreciate the opportunity and are motivated to contribute to the company’s success.
  • Sponsoring a skilled worker visa is a strategic investment that boosts productivity and fosters a vibrant work environment.
  • It propels the organization forward in today’s globalized economy.


Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Demystified: A Concise Guide for Restaurant and Hotel Employers” discusses the challenges faced by the UK hospitality industry in finding staff, particularly after post-Brexit workforce migration from European states was cut off in 2021. The traditional avenues for finding hospitality staff, such as online job portals, recruitment agencies, and social media platforms, are explored. However, there is still a huge shortage of applications coming into job vacancy adverts within the UK Hospitality and Catering sector. To address this issue, the UK’s Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship scheme is introduced as a solution for employers struggling to find staff for their Hospitality businesses. The scheme allows employers to sponsor skilled workers from overseas, opening up a vast pool of talent. We’ve tried to dispel the notion that becoming a visa sponsor is prohibitively costly and complicated, highlighting that there is now affordable help available from specialist visa and immigration agents. The benefits of offering visa sponsorship are also outlined, including access to a diverse talent pool, filling crucial roles, promoting diversity and inclusion, driving growth, and fostering loyalty and dedication from sponsored employees. Overall, we encourage hospitality employers to consider Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship as a viable solution to address staff shortages in the industry and encourage Hospitality Employers to make use of the affordable services offered by the growing number of Tier 2 Skilled Worker Immigration specialist service providers. We hope that this has been a useful article.

About the Author: Matt Rowley is a specialist Recruiter with more than 20 years experience in executing talent search projects for a broad base of hospitality and Catering Clients that includes leading international branded operators, independent restaurants, bars, hotels, royal palaces, and private households. Matt would love to hear from you if you are an Employer struggling to source much-needed hospitality talent or if you are a skilled Job Seeker from overseas looking for support in entering the UK job market.  


Google search link to show results for UK Skilled Worker Sponsor Agents
GOV.UK information page for UK Visa Sponsorship for Employers