In a recent interview with Jacqueline Moore, an immigration law specialist at Thorntons Solicitors, we gained invaluable insights into the implications of the recent changes in Skilled Worker Visa regulations for the UK hotel industry.

With significant alterations looming, it’s imperative for hoteliers to grasp the impact and devise strategic responses.

Impact on recruitment strategies

Moore highlighted a pivotal change in the Skilled Worker Visa regulations, particularly the substantial increase in the salary threshold.

She stated, “One key change for the hotel industry is the huge increase in the Skilled Worker salary threshold from £26,200 to £38,700 from 4 April 2024.”

This revelation underscores the potential exclusion of vital roles within the hotel sector from visa eligibility due to salary limitations.

According to Moore, “The biggest impact of this change will be felt by the hospitality sector, including the hotel industry.” This stark assessment underscores the industry’s vulnerability to exacerbated recruitment challenges in light of the new regulations.

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Challenges and strategies for UK hoteliers

Moore elucidated the significant challenges posed by the increased salary threshold for hoteliers, particularly in recruiting middle-income international workers.

She warned, “Some hotels, especially those in rural and island locations with a smaller local labour market, may struggle to continue operating at all.”

To navigate these challenges, Moore advises hoteliers to review short- to medium-term recruitment planning promptly. She emphasized, “Businesses should consider what roles they will sponsor in future and how they will support their international staff.”

Furthermore, Moore stressed the urgency for businesses without a sponsor licence to act swiftly. “The key message to hoteliers reading this who do not have a sponsor licence already is to take action urgently to obtain a licence,” she asserted.

Maintaining compliance and mitigating impact

With the replacement of the Shortage Occupation List, hoteliers must adapt their recruitment strategies.

Moore indicated that while the new Immigration Salary List will be more restrictive, its impact on the hospitality sector is expected to be minimal. “This change is unlikely to impact hoteliers as the roles that are in this list are not hospitality sector roles,” she clarified.

To streamline recruitment processes and ensure compliance, Moore highlighted the ten-year extension of sponsor licences from April 6, 2024.

However, she cautioned hoteliers to anticipate heightened scrutiny from the Home Office. “We can now expect to see more focus on compliance from the Home Office,” she warned.

Moore’s insights underscore the necessity for proactive adaptation and compliance among UK hoteliers.

With regulatory shifts reshaping the hospitality landscape, strategic responses are imperative to sustain operations and maintain a skilled workforce amidst evolving visa regulations.