London: The UK government’s move to drop chefs and other occupations from the shortage list is likely to hit the 3.2 billion pounds Indian restaurant industry, among others.

As part of its continuing moves to curb immigration, the government has banned the hiring of chefs from outside the European Union and the new curb includes other occupations like high-integrity pipe welders, airframe fitters, electricity industry site supervisors, skilled meat boners and trimmers and skilled sheep shearers, estate agents, hairdressers and beauty salon managers.

Previous restrictions had made it difficult to employ chefs from the Indian sub-continent, but Tuesday's announcement is expected to spark renewed protests from the Indian restaurant industry.

Owners and restaurant workers had taken to the streets of London in 2008 to protest against the earlier restrictions that raised the salary levels of chefs to be hired, a move that few Indian restaurant owners could afford.

The Home Office said the new restrictions on non-EU migrants wanting to work as chefs include having graduate-level qualifications, with a minimum of five years' previous experience in a role of at least equivalent status to the one they are entering.

They will also need to be paid a minimum of 28,260 pounds per year after deductions for accommodation and meals, a level that Indian restaurant owners find it impossible to afford.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said, “These changes to the shortage occupation list will ensure that only skilled workers are coming to the UK through tier two of the points-based system. It will allow firms to bring in people with necessary skills without migrants becoming the first resort to fill a wide range of available jobs".

More immigration curbs are expected to follow as the Home Office has asked the Migration Advisory Committee to "review shortages across the entire labour market with a view to amending the shortage occupation list", which details the posts for which employers can hire from outside the EU.

The Home Office has also confirmed that those coming to work as a skilled migrant in Britain will only be able to fill graduate-level jobs.

However, 5,500 skilled migrants who came to the UK in 2010 to work in shortage occupations will be excluded by the new rules.
The shake-up is part of efforts to cut net migration-the number that migration adds to the population every year – to the tens of thousands by 2015 which had hit 226,000 last year.

The student visa system will also be modified so only the "brightest and the best" can come to Britain as the Home Office figures suggest more than a quarter of those at private colleges flout immigration rules.

(Agencies)