Post-Brexit Visa Rules Push Away Italian Waiters from London's Hospitality Industry

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Due to an upward adjustment in the minimum wage requirement for skilled labor visas from £26,000 to £38,700, London experiences a scarcity of Italian waiters.

For decades, London welcomed ambitious Italians seeking employment opportunities and English language education, primarily in the hospitality sector.

However, this trend may come to an end due to the new visa requirements that have become increasingly difficult for many Italians to meet.A young Italian with initiative, the will to work and curiosity could once say "I'll go to London"

London has a rich history with Italy, dating back to Roman times when Italian merchants settled there.

Italians have left a lasting impact on London's cultural and gastronomic scene, with their introduction of café culture in Soho and the widespread adoption of dishes such as pizza and Parma ham.

Today, London boasts a substantial Italian population; however, the new visa rules threaten to diminish this presence.

Founder of Londra Italia, Francesco Ragni, admits that the visa application procedure was tough prior to the latest adjustments, yet it poses an outsized hardship on the hospitality industry currently.

The sector relies heavily on foreign labor, with over 15 percent of jobs being filled by foreign workers.

With fewer Italians able to meet the new salary threshold, restaurants face a significant challenge.

"It was already complicated — I don't think many waiters were coming over with that visa. More likely it was chefs and pizza makers who are hard to find in the UK." - Francesco Ragni

The current scarcity of skilled workers in London's hospitality sector due to the new visa requirements may force businesses to contend with extended periods of increased workload for their existing employees, potentially leading to burnout and decreased productivity. Moreover, this labor shortage could ultimately result in longer wait times for customers and, in some cases, the unfortunate closure of restaurants that are unable to find an adequate workforce.

The gravity of the situation in London's hospitality sector regarding the labor shortage is emphasized by Kate Nicholls, the CEO of UK Hospitality, who expresses concern over the worsening crisis.

As highly qualified Italians will still be able to apply for visas despite the new minimum salary requirement, it remains to be seen how this issue will impact London's hospitality sector in the long term.