With the shortage of health care workers wreaking havoc on care homes across the country in the wake of Brexit and Covid-19, many care homes may be looking for an answer to their recruitment woes.
The government’s answer to this has been the Health and Care visa, an attractive new route touting fast-track entry (15 working days as opposed to the standard 8 weeks for a Skilled Worker visa), cheaper visa fees, and an exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge. A number of healthcare professionals, particularly those working for the NHS, are covered but we will be focusing on its application in care homes after it was extended to cover certain professions in the social care sector.
Who is Eligible?
For the purpose of this blog, there are a number of Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) codes which are relevant for those hoping to employ staff for care homes. They include:
- 1242 – Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
- 2219 – Health Professionals not elsewhere classified
- 3219 – Health associate professionals not elsewhere classified
- 6141 – Nursing auxiliaries and assistants
- 6146 – Senior care workers
Notably absent are care workers below senior or management level. The roles must be at RQF level 3 or above, which is equivalent to UK A-levels. At the time of writing, junior care workers are not considered as having met this threshold.
Applicants under this route will also need to meet all the criteria under the Skilled Worker route including meeting requirements for minimum salary, English proficiency and doing a job on the list of eligible occupations.
In addition they must also be employed by an approved body and which approved body must be made clear on the Certificate of Sponsorship. If the assigning organisation is private, details of the arrangements with the relevant NHS body to which they also provide services must also be provided.
The threshold for income is £20,480 or the ‘going rate’ for the role, whichever is higher. This also excludes many lower paid positions from eligibility.
Applicants and their family members may also need to provide test results from an approved tuberculosis test if they are applying from overseas and resident in certain countries.
How do I Employ Someone on this Route?
In order to employ someone under the health and care route, an employer will first need to apply for a sponsor license in the same way as is required for a Skilled Worker visa. We will not go into detail about the process here, but we do offer assistance with applications for both sponsor licenses and the visa application process itself, so if your organisation does not hold one, please do get in touch.
Once the sponsor license has been obtained, the sponsoring organisation will need to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to the applicant, who will use this to apply for the visa. Details of how the role meets the requirements for the Health and Care route must be included on the Certificate of Sponsorship. Where the organisation provides NHS services, it may also be necessary to provide additional evidence of this with the applications.
What About Family Members?
Applicants on this route are able to bring dependant family members with them. This may include children under the age of 18, spouses, and unmarried partners living with the main applicant for at least 2 years in a relationship akin to marriage. There is no facility to bring extended family members or adult children in on this route.
Applicants’ dependant family members also enjoy the reduced fees and Immigration Health Surcharge exemption. They must prove their relationship to the main applicant, normally with a birth certificate, marriage certificate or evidence of cohabitation, unless their dependants have had a previous successful application as dependants of the main applicant.
How Long will the Visa be for?
The visa can be granted for a maximum of 5 years, with no minimum period, and is indefinitely renewable, the length of the visa is specified when the CoS is issued. If the visa is granted for a shorter period than 5 years, then it will be necessary to renew the visa before it expires in order for the individual to remain working in the UK.
After 5 years on this route, applicants and their dependants will be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK which will grant them the right to stay in the UK indefinitely (subject to some conditions).
How Much does it Cost?
The visa itself is comparatively cost efficient, with an exemption from the costly immigration health surcharge and the immigration skills charge.
The fees differ depending on whether the visa is issued for more or less than 3 years. The costing is also the same for each dependant, regardless of age. There may be a £55 fee reduction for the main applicant’s fee for applicants from certain countries.
Application fee: £232 per applicant (3 years and under)/£464 per applicant (over 3 years)
Biometric enrolment fee: £19.20 per applicant
Biometric appointment fee: Variable, may be free or up to £199 depending on the location.
Certificate of Sponsorship: £199
Applicants may also need to demonstrate financial maintenance if their sponsor does not certify this.
UK Visas has extensive experience with the Health and Care visa as well as other work visas. If you require support with a sponsor license, or managing applications for employees, we can help. Get in touch on 01403 801 801 or email at [email protected] to talk to one of our experts about the support we can offer.