Priti Patel and the “Vindaloo” visa

A very basic change to the Immigration Rules, which normally would receive little attention in the Media, received a bit more coverage than usual when home secretary Priti Patel announced the introduction of “vindaloo visas” to save the nation’s curry houses.

From 6th October 2019, restaurants which provide takeaway services will be allowed to recruit non-EEA (European Economic Area) chefs under a Tier 2 visa. Chefs join architects, engineers and nurses on the shortage occupation list.

The plight of Indian restaurants has long been a concern for Patel. In May 2016, while she was employment minister and a Vote Leave campaigner, she said that “uncontrolled immigration from the EU has led to tougher controls on migrants from the rest of the world. This means that we cannot bring in the talents and the skills we need to support our economy. By voting to leave we can take back control of our immigration policies, save our curry houses and join the rest of the world.”

In fact the restrictions on curry chefs were brought in by the Conservatives in 2011. Quite where the lost “control” of immigration policies went between 2011 and 2016 was not explained. Now, despite not having left the EU yet, Patel has somehow found enough control to change the rules after all.

There was no suggestion by Patel that British chefs could do the job. There’s a good reason for that. Two years ago, Tory immigration minister, Robert Goodwill, suggested the staff shortages could be dealt with by training curry chefs in Britain, but he forgot that this had already been tried in the Cameron era when Eric Pickles spent £1.75m of taxpayers money creating 70 apprenticeships at “curry colleges”. Only 16 people actually signed up at a cost of £110,000 each.

It is comforting to know that with all the difficulties in the immigration system, our home secretary has got her priorities right!

Nelam Trewin, September 2019