Could "Barista Visas" Keep Workers in U.K. Cafés?

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Some worry Brexit could leave bar (staffs) bare.

The passage of the Brexit referendum has brought with it all kinds of bad news (Overpriced prosecco, anyone?). But now, amid worries that European citizens won't be able to work in the U.K.'s restaurants, cafés, and bars in the wake of its break from the European Union, officials are whipping up a new plan to keep them bussing tables and making drinks: so-called barista visas.

U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd could introduce the barista visas—two year permits that would allow citizens of the EU's 27 countries to work in the U.K.'s hospitality industry even after the country leaves the union in March 2019, according to The Sun.

 

The visa plan is the brainchild of Migration Watch U.K., a non-government group in support of Brexit. The group says that barista-visa workers shouldn't be able to claim free housing or an array of other government-sponsored benefits while they're working in the U.K.

"We can meet the needs of pubs and restaurants and maintain our links with young Europeans by allowing them to come for a strictly limited period of two years to work," Migration Watch UK chairman Lord Green told The Sun. "They could work at any level, but would not become long-term immigrants [adding] to the pressure on public services."

The U.K. relies heavily on immigrant workers to staff its restaurants, cafés, and bars. This year, Pret a Manger told a parliamentary committee that just one in 50 of its applicants is from the U.K., saying that despite good pay, U.K. citizens are decreasingly interested in the hospitality industry.

"If I had to fill all our vacancies with British-only people, I would not be able to fill them because of the lack of applications," the chain's HR director, Andrea Wareham, told the committee.

Yet despite the need for immigrants Brexit will likely force into reality, some Brits are less than impressed with the barista visa plan.

"Barista visas sound like a piece of political satire," Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, wrote on Twitter. "The government must urgently guarantee the right of EU nationals to stay instead of coming up with these insulting proposals."

It may take some time to sort all of this out as Britain isn't expected to be fully out of the EU until sometime in early 2019.

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