The Government has said it has "no plan" to introduce a hospitality worker visa scheme despite a petition which has gained nearly 17,000 signatures.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe petition, started by Thiago Luz Togni (general manager of Temper Shoreditch in London), called for the creation of a visa like the seasonal worker visa for horticulture workers, to allow EU nationals to come to the UK to work in hospitality for up to two years.\r\n\r\nAs the petition gained more than 10,000 signatures, the government had to respond to it. In its response, the Home Office said there were no plans to introduce a visa route for recruitment \u201cat or near the minimum wage with relatively short training" and that businesses "should invest in and develop the UK's domestic labour force".\r\n\r\nThe statement said that the Government \u201crecognise the ending of free movement is a significant change for businesses\u201d and that it \u201cbelieves immigration must be considered alongside investment in, and development of, the UK's domestic labour force, rather than as an alternative to it\u201d.\r\n\r\nIt added: "Enquiries on how best to address recruitment issues and\/or take advantage of the skills system to grow the workforce should in the first instance be directed to the Department of Work and Pensions and the Department for Education, as the Departments dealing with employment and skills respectively. We continue to support industries to achieve sustainable solutions to labour shortages through making roles more attractive to UK workers, with better pay and working conditions."\r\n\r\nThe response also highlighted that more than 6.5 million people have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and can continue to live and work in the UK. Although the deadline for the EUSS has passed, those with reasonable grounds for missing it can still apply. Those with settled status who have left the UK can return within five years, and those with pre-settled status can return within two years.\r\n\r\nOur Plan for Jobs is therefore focused on helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work, rather than providing alternatives to this via immigration policy\u201d.\r\n\r\nThe UK has a history of having high numbers of EU workers, data shows that 43,000 EU citizens received visas for work, family, study or other purposes in 2021, a small fraction of the 230,000 to 430,000 EU citizens coming to the UK each year in the six years to March 2020, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates. While that data was recorded in a time of Covid-19 Government enforced restrictions, it shows the alarmly low migrant worker levels, contributing to the lack of hospitality workforce.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe petition will run until February 2023. If it gains 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament.