Overseas social workers, care assistants and home care workers will soon be eligible to apply for a UK Health and Care Worker Visa. It is hoped that the extension of the Health and Care Worker route will allow thousands of additional care workers to be recruited to fill staff shortages within the UK's social care sector.

The temporary measures announced by the Home Office are expected to come into force in early 2022 and will be in place for a minimum of 12 months.

Health and Care Worker Visa

The Health and Care Worker visa was launched in August 2020. It allows medical professionals to come to or stay in the UK to work with the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care. 

The Health and Care Worker Visa can lead to settlement in the UK after 5 years if the worker remains employed.

Care workers and carers can also be joined by dependent partners and children.

The visa offers a 50% visa fee reduction. The standard application fee for a Health and Care Worker visa is £232 per person for those who wish to stay in the UK for up to three years and £464 per person for those who wish to stay in the UK for more than three years.

Health and Care Worker visa applicants also benefit from an exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge and a speedier decision following application, with most applications processed within 3 weeks from the date biometrics are taken.

Changes to the Health and Care Worker Visa

All roles within SOC Code 6145 are to be brought within the scope of the visa change. 

This includes the following job titles: Care Assistant, Care Worker, Carer, Home Care Assistant, Home Carer and Support Worker (Nursing Home).

Following a recent recommendation by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), care workers will also be added to the shortage occupation list. This move will require carers who qualify for the Health and Care visa to be paid a minimum annual salary of £20,480.

Next Steps for Employers

In order to obtain a Health and Care Worker Visa, eligible care workers will need to have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job they are planning to do. This is an electronic record rather than a physical document.

The care worker's Certificate of Sponsorship will need to have been issued by an employer that is authorised by the Home Office to sponsor the job in question under the Health and Care Worker route. 

Care providers who do not already hold a sponsor licence can prepare to take advantage of the extension to the Health and Care Worker route by registering for a sponsorship license ahead of implementation.

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