Requirements for a Health and Care Worker Visa
Launched in 2020 the 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 route can lead to settlement after 5 years and applicants can be joined by dependent partners and children.
What are the eligible roles to qualify for a Health and Care Visa?
In order to qualify for a Health and Care Worker Visa, you will need to show that you are a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional who works or will work within one of the following roles (as organised by Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Codes):
- 1181: health services and public health managers and directors
- 1242: residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
- 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
- 3111: laboratory technicians
- 3213: paramedics
- 3216: dispensing opticians
- 3217: pharmaceutical technicians
- 3218: medical and dental technicians
- 3219: health associate professionals not elsewhere classified
- 6141: nursing auxiliaries and assistants
- 6143: dental nurses
- 6146: senior care workers
This is an exhaustive list and roles which are within the general health and care sector but fall under different codes would not be eligible for the Health and Care Visa. However, some roles may still be eligible within the general Skilled Worker category.
Who can sponsor a skilled worker for a Health and Care Visa?
You will also need to show that you work or will work for a UK health and care sector employer that has been approved by the Home Office. 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 must issue a valid certificate of sponsorship with information about the role you hold or have been offered. This is an electronic record, rather than a physical document, and it will include details of your name, job, salary and a brief explanation of how you meet the 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.
The certificate of sponsorship must have been issued not more than 3 months before the date of your Health and Care Worker application.
In addition, your employer must have paid in full any required Immigration Skills Charge. This payment cannot be transferred to the applicant and must be paid each time a certificate of sponsorship is issued. Please note that chemical scientists (2111) and biological scientists and biochemists (2112) are exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge requirement.
What is the salary requirement for a Health and Care Visa?
An applicant must be paid a salary of at least £20,480 per year unless the ‘going rate’ for the job is higher than this. The ‘going rate’ depends on the specific occupation code and, where applicable, the various NHS pay bands.
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.
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.
What are the other requirements for a Health and Care Visa?
Financial maintenance requirement
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 evidence that you have held these funds for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the date of your 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.
English language requirement
You will also need to demonstrate English language ability in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) to at least level B1 (intermediate). This may be met in a number of ways including:
- Being a national of a majority English-speaking country;
- Passing a Secured English Language Test at an approved institution;
- Passing a degree-level academic qualification taught in English;
- Having 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;
- Meeting the English language requirement to B1 standard in a previous successful application for leave to enter or remain; or
- As a doctor, dentist, nurse or midwife you have already passed an English language assessment accepted by the relevant professional regulatory body.
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.
Tuberculosis certificate requirement
You will also need to provide a valid TB certificate, if you are making an application from a listed country.
Switching into the 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.
Duration of a Health and Care Worker Visa
If your application for a 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.
There is no restriction on the length of stay and you may be granted up to 5 years leave a time.
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.
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.
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.
Contact our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance regarding an application for a UK Health and Care Worker visa, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.