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UK HEALTH AND CARE WORKER VISA

UK HEALTH AND CARE WORKER VISA

The UK Health and Care Worker Visa is open to qualified doctors, nurses and allied health professionals of all nationalities (except British and Irish) who have been trained to a recognised standard.

The UK Health and Care Worker Visa can lead to settlement in the UK after 5 years and applicants can be joined by dependent partners and children.

Requirements for a UK Health and Care Worker Visa

In order to qualify for a UK Health and Care Worker Visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You are aged 18 or over;
  • You are a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional;
  • You work or will work in an eligible health or social care job, which falls within the list of approved occupation codes;
  • You work or will work for a UK health and care sector employer that has been approved by the Home Office;
  • You have a valid ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you have been offered;
  • You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0);
  • You will be paid the minimum salary or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work you will be doing, whichever is higher;
  • You have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds;
  • You have provided a criminal record certificate, if working with vulnerable people; and
  • You have provided a valid TB certificate, if from a listed country.

The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances.  You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.

To discuss your UK Health and Care Worker Visa application with one of our immigration barristers, contact our Skilled Worker Route lawyers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

UK Health and Care Worker Visa Occupational Codes

The relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Codes which meet the eligibility requirements for the UK Health and Care Worker visa are as follows:

  • 2112: biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113: physical scientists
  • 2211: medical practitioners
  • 2212: psychologists
  • 2213: pharmacists
  • 2214: ophthalmic opticians
  • 2215: dental practitioners
  • 2217: medical radiographers
  • 2218: podiatrists
  • 2219: health professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as audiologists and occupational health advisers
  • 2221: physiotherapists
  • 2222: occupational therapists
  • 2223: speech and language therapists
  • 2229: therapy professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as osteopaths and psychotherapists
  • 2231: nurses
  • 2232: midwives
  • 2442: social workers
  • 3213: paramedics

This is an exhaustive list and roles which are within the same sector but fall under different codes would not be eligible for the UK Health and Care Visa: However, some roles may still be eligible within the general Skilled Worker category, for example medical and dental technicians and nursing assistants and auxiliaries. 

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Requirement

In order to obtain a UK Health and Care Worker Visa you must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job you are planning to do. This is an electronic record rather than a physical document.

Your 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 UK Health and Care Worker route. 

The typical employer will be the NHS, an organisation providing medical services to the NHS, or an organisation providing adult social care. Where an employer is not currently approved they can apply for a Sponsor Licence if they are eligible.

Your employer will be required to include a brief explanation in the Certificate of Sponsorship setting out how the employee meets the UK Health and Care Visa eligibility requirement. Where an employer is an organisation that provides services commissioned by the NHS, evidence of any contractual arrangements with the NHS may be required to be disclosed. 

Your Certificate of Sponsorship must have been issued not more than 3 months before the date of your UK Health and Care Worker visa application.

Your Certificate of Sponsorship must include certain mandatory information, including:

  • details of your name, job and salary;
  • a start date which is no more than 3 months after the date your Health and Care Worker visa application;
  • confirmation that the Certificate of Sponsorship has not been used in a previous application which was either granted or refused and has not been withdrawn by the sponsor or cancelled by the Home Office;

Immigration Skills Charge Requirement

Your employer must also have paid in full any required Immigration Skills Charge. This payment cannot be transferred to the applicant.

The Immigration Skills Charge is a charge for each foreign worker that a sponsoring employer seeks to employ.  The Immigration Skills Charge must be paid each time a sponsoring employer assigns a Certificate of Sponsorship to a migrant.

Chemical scientists (2111) and biological scientists and biochemists (2112) are exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge requirement.

English Language Requirement

In order to qualify for a UK Health and Care Worker visa you will need demonstrate English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference scale (CEFR) for Languages in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) to at least level B1 (intermediate).

Prospective employees applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as a UK Health and Care Worker will satisfy the English language requirement if they:

  • Are a national of a majority English-speaking country;
  • Have passed a Secure English Language Test from an approved provider;
  • Have been awarded a degree-level academic qualification taught in English;
  • Obtained a GCSE/A Level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Highers or Advanced Higher in English while at school in the UK; or
  • Have already shown they met the requirement, of level B1, in a previous successful application for entry clearance or permission to stay.

If you are being sponsored to work as a doctor, dentist, nurse or midwife you do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you have already passed an English language assessment  accepted by the relevant professional regulatory body. 

Salary Threshold Requirement

Employers seeking to recruit under the UK Health and Care Worker route must (subject to circumstances where less may be paid as set out below) pay their Health and Care Workers a salary of at least £20,480 per year unless the ‘going rate’ for the job is higher than this. 

Each occupation code has its own annual ‘going rate’. For roles within the NHS there are various pay bands which vary according to whether they are in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. 

There is a separate system for those working as biochemists or as biological or physical scientists which usually requires a minimum salary of £25,600 per year unless the ‘going rate’ for your job is higher than this. 

You may be paid less than the ‘going rate’ in the following circumstances:

  • You can be paid at 80% of the usual going rate if your job is in a shortage occupation list.
  • You can be paid at 70% of the usual going rate if you are under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training towards a recognised UK qualification or registered status.
  • You can be paid at 80% of the usual going rate if you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to your job as long as you will still earn at least £20,480 a year.
  • You can be paid at 90% of the usual going rate if you have a non-STEM PhD level qualification as long as you will still earn your salary must be at least £23,040.
  • You can be paid 70% of your usual going rate if you will be working in a postdoctoral position

What is a ‘job in a shortage occupation’?

The Home Office maintains a list of skilled roles where employers find it difficult to secure adequate numbers of workers with the required skills to fill their vacancies.  A separate list for shortage occupations for healthcare and education is set out on the Home Office website, which includes all medical practitioners, nurses , midwives, psychologists, speech and language therapists, medical radiographers, paramedics and social workers amongst others.  As explained above, if you have a job offer for a job on the shortage occupation list, the salary threshold requirement will be reduced.

Financial Maintenance Requirement

Subject to the exemptions below, you will need to have cash funds of at least £1,270 available to show that you can support yourself in the UK.

You will need to have held the money for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the date of your UK Health and Care Worker Visa application.

If you are applying for permission to stay and have been in the UK with permission for 12 months or more at the date of application, you will meet the financial requirement and will not need to show funds.

You will also be exempt  if your employer can cover your costs during your first month in the UK to an amount of at least £1,270, if necessary.  Your sponsor will need to confirm this on your Certificate of Sponsorship by completing the ‘Sponsor certifies maintenance’ section.

Criminal Record Certificate Requirement

If you are applying from outside the UK you will need to provide a criminal record certificate, unless your job is one of the following occupation codes: biological scientists and biochemists (2112) or physical scientist (2113).

  • If you are under 28 years old and you have lived in more than one country you will need to provide a criminal record certificate for any country in which you have stayed for a total of 12 months or more since you turned 18.
  • If you are over 28 years old you will need to provide a criminal record certificate for any country you have stayed in over the last 10 years.

Switching into the UK Health and Care Worker Visa Route

If you currently have leave to remain in another immigration category, you may extend your stay by switching into the Health and Care Worker route unless you have, or were last granted, permission as a Visitor, Short-term student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household,  are on Immigration Bail or have leave to remain in the UK outside of the Immigration Rules. 

Is there a cooling off period in the UK Health and Care Worker route?

Under its predecessor route, those applying for entry clearance or to switch into the Tier 2 (General) route had to have not been in the UK as a Tier 2 (General) migrant during the past 12 months.  Under the Skilled Worker route, which includes the Health and Care Worker route, the 12-month ‘cooling off period’ has been removed.  There is no restriction on when applications to enter the UK Health and Care Worker Visa route can be made.

Duration of a UK Health and Care Worker Visa

If your application for a UK Health and Care Worker Visa is approved you will be granted entry clearance or permission to stay for a period ending 14 days after the end date of your Certificate of Sponsorship (which may be up to a maximum of 5 years after the start date of your Certificate of Sponsorship). Your certificate of sponsorship will state for how long your employer is sponsoring you.

You can usually apply to extend your Health and Care Worker visa if you still meet the salary requirements and :

  • You have the same job as when you were previously were given permission to enter or stay in the UK; or
  • Your job is in the same occupation code as when you were previously were given permission to enter or stay in the UK; or
  • You are working for the same employer who issued your current certificate of sponsorship. 

Is there a maximum time in the Health and Care Worker route?

Under the former Tier 2 (General) route, those applying for entry clearance or to switch into the route had to satisfy a requirement to spend a maximum of six years in the route. 

Under the Health and Care Worker route, the six-year maximum length of stay in the route has been removed. There is no restriction on the length of stay and you may be granted up to 5 years leave a time.  

Conditions of Stay as a UK Health and Care Worker

Health and Care Worker Visa holders are permitted to work in the job they have been sponsored for.  They may also undertake supplementary employment provided they continue to work in the job for which they are being sponsored and the additional work is in the same occupation code or is less than 20 paid hours a week. 

You cannot apply for most benefits or a State Pension.  You cannot change jobs or employer unless you update your visa.

You will need to apply to update your Health and Care Worker visa if you want to change your job and your new job is with a different employer; or your job changes to a different occupation code, and you are not in a graduate training programme; or if you leave a job that is on the shortage occupation list for a job that is not included on the list.

You will also need to update your visa if you will be working more than 20 hours a week or will be working in a different occupation code. This will require a new certificate of sponsorship from your second employer and include a letter explaining your reasons for wanting to change your current permissions to stay. 

Settlement as a UK Health and Care Worker

In order to qualify for Settlement as a Health and Care Worker, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK;
  • The 5-year continuous period consisted of time with permission on any of, or any combination of, the following routes: Health and Care Worker, Global talent,  Innovator, Tier 2 Minister of Religion, Tier 2 Sportsperson, Representative of an Overseas Business or as a Tier 1 Migrant (other than as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant);
  • You have not been outside for more than 180 days during each year of the 5-year continuous period;
  • You have passed the Life in the UK test (unless aged 65 or over); 
  • Your sponsor is still a Home Office approved sponsor;
  • Your sponsor still requires you to work for them for the foreseeable future;
  • You are being, and will be paid for the foreseeable future, at least the general salary threshold or the going rate requirement, whichever is higher.

Application Fees and Fee Reduction

Individuals applying for the Health and Care Visa will pay reduced application fees where their employer has confirmed on their Certificate of Sponsorship that they meet the eligibility criteria of the route.  The reduction of fees also applies to partners and dependants. The fee reduction should operate automatically through the online application process.

The published fees, in effect from 01 December 2020, are the same for entry clearance applications made outside of the UK and leave to remain applications made within the UK, including applications to switch into this category. 

  • Where a Certificate of Sponsorship has been issued for you to stay in the UK for 3 years or less the fee is £232.
  • Where a Certificate of Sponsorship has been issued for you to stay in the UK for3 years or more the fee is £464. 

This fee will be automatically reduced by £55 if you are a national of: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey. This reduction only applies to the applicant – partners and dependants will need to pay the full application fee.

Exemption from Immigration Health Surcharge

Health and Care Worker visa applicants and their dependants are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Charge.

Fast track Entry & Expedited Visa Processing Times 

The Home Office published guidance states that UK Visas and Immigration will prioritise Health and Care visa applications, with the aim that the vast majority are processed within 3 weeks from the date biometrics are taken.

Dependants of Health and Care Workers

Health and Care Workers may be joined or accompanied by a dependent partner over the age of 18 and/or or a dependent child under the age of 18. 

The Health and Care Worker visa fee reduction applies to partners and children applying as dependants of Health and Care Visa applicants as does the exemption from Immigration Health Charge.

COVID-19 visa extensions for Health Workers

If you are a health worker employed by the NHS or an independent healthcare provider in an eligible profession and your visa expires between 01 October 2020 and 31 March 2021 you may be eligible for a free one-year extension to your current leave. 

How Our Immigration Barristers Can Help

Our team of business immigration barristers has experience in assisting employers and Health and Care Workers across a variety of industries in companies of all sizes. Our barristers can help you with planning to ensure that you meet your start date and ensure that your career progression will fit your immigration goals.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to Health and Care Workers as part of a professional and friendly service.

We can also assist with

  • Applications for Settlement as a Health and Care Worker

    In order to qualify for Settlement as a Health and Care Worker, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

    • You have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK;
    • The 5-year continuous period consisted of time with permission on any of, or any combination of, the following routes: Health and Care Worker, Global talent,  Innovator, Tier 2 Minister of Religion, Tier 2 Sportsperson, Representative of an Overseas Business or as a Tier 1 Migrant (other than as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant);
    • You have not been outside for more than 180 days during each year of the 5-year continuous period;
    • You have passed the Life in the UK test (unless aged 65 or over); 
    • Your sponsor is still a Home Office approved sponsor;
    • Your sponsor still requires you to work for them for the foreseeable future;
    • You are being, and will be paid for the foreseeable future, at least the general salary threshold or the going rate requirement, whichever is higher.
  • Fresh applications, Administrative reviews and Judicial reviews for Health and Care Workers

    If your application for entry clearance, leave to remain or settlement as a Health and Care Worker has been refused, our immigration barristers can advise on the merits of making a fresh application or challenging the decision.

    If the decision-maker failed to apply the Immigration Rules or Home Office policy correctly, we can bring Administrative Review proceedings to challenge the decision.

    If the decision to refuse your application was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper, our immigration barristers can apply for Judicial Review and provide representation at Judicial Review hearings.

WHAT CAN WE HELP YOU WITH?

To discuss your UK Health and Care Worker visa application with one of our immigration barristers, contact our skilled worker immigration team on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

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