As part of our coalition government's promise to 'clamp down' on non-European Union immigration, the Home Office has announced new restrictions on the number and types of people who can migrate to the UK from outside the EU to work.
The new rules mean that, for example, someone from China or Hong Kong who wants to come to the UK to work as a chef in a takeaway will no longer be allowed to do so.
It's a blow to the Chinese catering industry which has been calling for special dispensation to employ migrant workers as part of the Strangers into Citizens campaign (see video above).
Chinese chefs will still be permitted to work in UK restaurants as long as they meet certain criteria (minimum five years' experience, income of £28,260 after accommodation and food) but takeaways are excluded.
The BBC reports:
"Immigration Minister Damian Green: "These changes will allow firms to bring in people with necessary skills without migrants becoming the first resort to fill a wide range of available jobs.
"This government is also determined to get people back to work and provide business with the skills they need from the British workforce - reducing the need for migrants at the same time as we reduce their number."
I understand the move might be logical from a domestic and political point of view - when there is record unemployment in the UK it does not make sense to encourage businesses to bring people in from faraway countries to do jobs that might be done by a British person.
But should that apply to ethnic catering? After all, can you really say that a Chinese chef working in a takeaway has actually deprived a British person of a job? Isn't the job, and the business itself generated by the ethnicity of the people involved? If British chefs are now supposed to be considered for jobs in Chinese takeaways, who is going to train them?
Personally I don't think it is that undesirable (for either the shop owners or the customers) for a Chinese takeaway to employ Chinese staff to cook Chinese food. It makes you wonder if in this case the law has been used to target something that was not actually doing any harm.
Story: The Guardian