The Health And Care Visa What Is It And Who Can Apply?
With the shortage of health care workers wreaking havoc on care homes and hospitals across the country in the wake of Brexit and Covid-19, many care homes and other medical providers 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 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.
In short, the Health and Care Worker visa allows medical professionals to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care, the latter of which has recently been expanded to include a greater range of social care related roles from 15/02/2022.
Who Is Eligible?
To qualify you must be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional and work in an eligible health or social care job. Applicants must also have a confirmed job offer and have been issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship before applying for their visa.
There are a number of Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) codes which are eligible under this route and this has recently been expanded to include more. They include but are not limited to:
- 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
Applicants under this route will also need to meet all the criteria under the Skilled Worker route https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-skilled-worker 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.
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.
Currently, holders of a UK Health and Social Care visa can also work additional hours in an eligible role without reporting this to the Home Office (note this will be capped at 20 additional hours on 27/08/23).
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 also 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. If we manage your sponsor license then we will do this on your behalf. 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.
Family members will be granted leave in line with that 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).
The exception to this rule is for roles in SOC code 6145 for more junior care workers who can only apply for a visa for 12 months and who will not be permitted to extend this.
How Much Does It Cost?
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. https://www.gov.uk/health-care-worker-visa/how-much-it-costs
Application fee: £2384 per applicant (3 years and under)/£551per 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: £239
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 582 340 or email at [email protected] to talk to one of our experts about the support we can offer.