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Italian Waiters bid arrivederci to London as Visa Rules Tighten Post-Brexit


Italy mourns the departure of its vibrant community of London-based Italian waiters as stringent post-Brexit visa regulations make it increasingly difficult for young Italians to work in the British capital’s restaurants.

The recent raise in the minimum salary threshold for skilled work visas from £26,000 to £38,700 has effectively barred many aspiring Italian workers from pursuing employment opportunities in London.

Describing the situation as a farewell to London, Italian media outlets have lamented the end of an era for Italian involvement in the city. For decades, London has been a magnet for adventurous young Italians seeking English lessons and employment opportunities, particularly in the vibrant hospitality industry. However, the new minimum salary requirement has dashed the hopes of many who invested in education in the UK but now find themselves unable to secure a suitable job.

London’s historical ties with Italy date back centuries, with Italians contributing significantly to the city’s cultural and culinary landscape. From introducing café culture to Soho to familiarising Britons with pizza and parma ham, Italians have left an indelible mark on London’s culinary scene. Today, London is home to a sizable Italian population, but the new visa rules threaten to diminish this vibrant community.

Francesco Ragni, founder of the Italian expat website Londra Italia, acknowledges that the visa process was already daunting for many Italian workers before the recent changes. While skilled professionals in sectors such as banking may still meet the salary threshold, the hospitality sector, which relies heavily on foreign workers, is facing a crisis. The shortage of skilled workers, including chefs and waiters, poses a significant challenge to London’s restaurants, many of which are struggling to stay afloat amidst labor shortages.

The impact of the new visa rules extends beyond the hospitality sector, with implications for the broader economy. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, warns that the successive tightening of skilled worker visas has exacerbated labor shortages in the sector. With over 90 percent of migrants recruited in the hospitality sector last year unable to meet the new salary threshold, the industry faces an uphill battle in filling crucial positions.

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