Health and Care Worker Visa
In the United Kingdom, the Health and Care Visa is an exclusive immigration pathway tailored for medical professionals seeking employment in the healthcare sector. This visa enables talented individuals to work in approved roles within the NHS, an NHS supplier, or adult social care.
This visa not only provides a pathway for individuals to build a fulfilling career in healthcare but also offers numerous advantages. It allows successful applicants to bring their spouse and children as dependants.
Moreover, visa holders are allowed to take on secondary work (in specific circumstances), perform voluntary work, and pursue further studies.
One of the significant advantages of this visa is the ability to secure permanent settlement after living in the country for five years.
With the Health and Care Visa, medical professionals can contribute their skills to the British healthcare system while enjoying the benefits and opportunities that come with living and working in Great Britain.
The UK Health and Care Worker Visa
In Great Britain, the Health and Care Worker Visa is an exclusive opportunity that permits skilled medical and healthcare professionals from overseas to engage in employment within the United Kingdom.
Visa holders can work in the NHS (National Health Service) and in the adult care. Working for an NHS supplier is also allowed. Alternative names of this visa route are a Healthcare Worker Visa, Nurse Visa, Home Care Visa, and Senior Care Visa UK.
The visa allows for residing and working in the United Kingdom for up to five years, and holders can extend it indefinitely. Once five years have passed, individuals can even settle in the UK permanently without securing any other visa types. When settled permanently in the UK, a person can access numerous benefits, including the right to reside, study, and work in the Kingdom for as long as desired, and even claim public benefits if the eligibility criteria are met.
The British National Health Service (NHS) eagerly hires overseas medical professionals using the Health and Care Worker immigration program to address staffing shortages and ensure the provision of quality healthcare services. This program allows the NHS to attract highly skilled healthcare professionals from around the globe to fill critical positions and meet the growing demand for healthcare services in the UK.
UK Health and Care Worker Visa Pros and Cons
The Health and Care Worker Visa comes with a number of benefits for people employed in eligible healthcare positions. One of the key benefits is the ability to work in Great Britain, which provides opportunities for career growth and development.
The visa provides opportunities for individuals to participate in voluntary work and continue their studies, enabling them to enhance their skills and knowledge.
Another advantage is the option to bring their children and partner to the UK as dependants, promoting family unity and support.
Visa holders have the freedom to travel internationally and re-enter the UK with no limitations. Once they have resided in the UK continuously for the duration of five years and fulfilled the required conditions, individuals are eligible to seek permanent settlement – ILR or Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Nevertheless, it is important to consider the drawbacks as well. Visa holders face limitations, such as ineligibility for the State Pension and most welfare benefits. Additionally, their career options are restricted since they must update their visa in order to switch jobs or employers.
Distinguishing Healthcare Worker Visas from Skilled Worker Visas
In Great Britain, the Healthcare Worker Visa should not be mistakenly identified as the Skilled Worker Visa, as they are separate categories of visas.
The Health and Care Worker Visa is tailored for specialists working in medical and care fields, whereas the skilled worker visa focuses on professionals in non-healthcare sectors.
The Healthcare Visa offers several advantages over a skilled worker counterpart:
- Faster processing time. Expect the processing of your Health and Care Visa application to take approximately three weeks after submitting your biometric data, whereas with other work visas, you may have to wait for the decision up to 8-20 weeks.
- Lower application fee. The Healthcare Visa costs only £479, in contrast to the skilled worker one, which is as expensive as £1,423 (when you apply for more than three years).
- The Healthcare Worker Visa exempts individuals from paying the £624 healthcare immigration surcharge per year of stay.
Qualifications for UK Healthcare Worker Visa: Who Can Apply?
The visa is exceptionally designed for certified doctors, allied health professionals, and nurses, who are going to work in approved roles within the healthcare industry in the UK. Furthermore, apart from meeting the specified job requirements, there are several additional qualifications that must be satisfied to be eligible for this immigration scheme.
Eligibility requirements include the following:
- To be eligible, you need to hold the proper qualifications and certifications in medicine, health, nursing, or adult social care that are required for your profession.
- You must also take an eligible job in a social care or health field. Eligible roles are typically classified under specific occupation codes, identified by 4 digits (also known as SOCs, Standard Occupation Codes). If you are unfamiliar with your code, use the ONS occupation code directory to find your job.
- A UK employer, approved by the Home Office, has offered you a job. This employer could be the NHS, a medical services provider to the NHS, or an adult care company.
- Your UK employer has issued a Certificate of Sponsorship for you, and this document contains detailed information about the role you will perform.
- You satisfy the minimum salary requirement, which may vary depending on the specific position you will be undertaking.
- Having a good command of the English language is also an obligatory condition for the UK Health and Care Worker Visa. This includes being able to easily read, communicate, write, and understand the English language. When seeking a visa, it is necessary to furnish proof of your proficiency in the English language. However, if you hold the citizenship of a majority English-speaking country, this requirement can be exempted.
If the UK Health and Care Worker Visa does not fit your situation, it is important to consider other visa options that still permit you to work in the United Kingdom. Contacting Sterling Law, immigration lawyers in London, can provide you with expert guidance and assistance in navigating the complex immigration process. Our team of experienced professionals can assess your eligibility and help you explore viable alternatives to fulfil your career aspirations in the UK.
Eligibility Conditions for UK Health and Care Worker Visa
The primary condition for securing a UK Health and Care Worker Visa is regarding your status as a qualified doctor, nurse, or allied health professional. However, there are a number of other criteria to comply with for a successful application.
Typically, you should earn a minimum of £26,200 annually or £10.75 per hour, whichever is higher. But if the normal going rate for your particular job is higher than these amounts, your salary must not be lower than the going rate.
For certain health occupations, the minimum annual salary level is £20,960, but the going rate for the occupation must also still be exceeded.
If your salary is over £20,960 annually and you meet other specific conditions, you are eligible to receive between 70% and 90% of the regular going rate. In this case, the eligible criteria will include:
- being in a shortage occupation;
- being younger than 26 years or being a recently graduate/student /professional trainee;
- having a relevant STEM PhD qualification;
- having any other PhD and a salary of at least £23,580);
- having a postdoctoral position in a scientific role.
English Language Condition
Demonstrating your knowledge of English is obligatory when applying for the Health and Care Worker Visa in the UK. You can demonstrate this through various means, such as providing the results of an approved English language test or demonstrating that you have a degree taught in English from an accepted institution.
It’s worth noting that certain individuals are exempt from the language requirement. If you are from a majority English-speaking country, you might not have to show any further proof of your language abilities.
If you have already passed an English Language assessment approved by an appropriate organisation and used it in a previous successful UK visa application, you do not need to prove your knowledge of English again.
Job Offer Condition
To work in the UK, you need a job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). You can get a job offer from an National Health Service (NHS) Trust, an approved NHS service provider, or a recognised organisation operating in the adult social care field. Make sure your employer has a sponsor licence to hire overseas staff with Skilled Worker visas. Also, ensure the job offer matches the specific occupation codes.
Personal Savings Requirement
In some circumstances, you will need prove your financial stability to support yourself on arrival. This requirement does not need to be met if you have been in the UK with a valid UK visa for the last 12 months.
If you do need to meet the financial requirement , you must maintain a constant bank balance of at least £1,270 for a consecutive period of 28 days. This 28-day period should be within 31 days of your visa application. Generally, you must provide evidence of this, unless your employer certifies that they will pay for your expenses during your first month in the UK.
Importantly, if your dependent relatives are coming with you, they must also prove their financial capacity during their stay in the Kingdom. This will require the following additional funds to be shown:
- £285 for your spouse/eligible partner;
- £315 for one child;
- £200 for each extra child.
If your employer is willing to support you financially for the first month of your stay, your CoS should confirm this, and your employer should fill out the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section under “Additional data.”
Application Procedure for a UK Health and Care Visa
In the United Kingdom, applications for Healthcare Worker Visas are submitted online via the official gov.uk website and through the Skilled Worker route. As you begin the application process, you will see a specific question asking if you are applying for the Healthcare Visa. It is crucial to select “yes” to ensure the correct visa category is selected.
You must complete identity verification checks when applying. There are two methods to do so:
- by scanning your ID document with the help of the UK Immigration: ID Check app;
- by going to a visa application centre in your area and providing biometric data including fingerprints and a facial photo.
To complete your application, you need to:
- fill out the form;
- provide proof of identity;
- include all required documents;
- pay the application fee.
You can apply up to 3 months before the planned travel date. Generally, a decision will be made within 3 weeks after submitting your application.
Must-Have Papers for a UK Healthcare Worker Visa
To apply successfully, you will need to submit the following documents and information:
- CoS reference number. This number will be provided by your employer.
- Proof of English language skills – you must demonstrate your command of the English language.
- A document that verifies your identity and nationality, such as a valid passport or national ID card.
- Job title and annual salary.
- Job occupation code.
- Employer details: the name of your employer and their sponsor licence number mentioned on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). If you do not possess a copy of the CoS, you can request a copy from your employer.
In certain situations, you may need to provide extra documents:
- Evidence of personal finances is required for individuals who need to show they can support themselves financially in the UK. Bank statements or proof of personal savings may be necessary, unless the CoS states your employer is prepared to provide financial support.
- You may need to provide proof of your relationship if you are including your partner or children in your application.
- Residents of certain countries need to provide their tuberculosis test results.
- Certain professions mandate a criminal record certificate.
- If you obtained your qualification outside the UK, you must provide an Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) certificate and reference number . Applications for this should be made through Ecctis.
- Blank passport page. Your passport must have a blank page to stamp the visa. This applies to individuals from regions outside the EU, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, or Liechtenstein, or those from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, or Liechtenstein who do not have a biometric passport.
Certified translations are necessary if your documents are not in English or Welsh.
Processing Times for a Health and Care Worker Visa
When planning to work in the UK, you can begin the visa application process up to three months prior to your intended start date. The specific date can be found on your Certificate of Sponsorship.
As part of your application, it will be necessary to provide proof of your identity and submit the required documents. If you are required to schedule an appointment for this step, it is recommended to allow extra time for this process. The need for an appointment will be determined once you begin your application.
Once you have submitted your application online, completed the identity verification, and provided all required documents, the visa decision is typically made within three weeks. However, you may accelerate the process by purchasing an expedited decision, which varies depending on your current location – whether you are residing in the UK or outside.
Fees for a Health and Care Worker Visa
You and each of your dependants will be required to pay application fees. However, you all are exempt from paying the healthcare surcharge.
The application fee varies based on the duration of your stay in the UK:
- up to 3 years: £284 per person;
- more than 3 years: £551 per person.
The fee remains the same regardless of whether you apply from inside or outside the UK. Notably, if you need to speed up the decision process, you can pay an additional fee for a priority service.
If you have a UK Health and Care Worker Visa, your dependent relatives can come with you. Their visa will generally end when your visa expires.
Your dependent partner or relative can be your:
- unmarried partner/spouse/civil partner;
- child under 18 (even if they were born in the UK);
- child over 18 who was previously granted a visa as a dependant of their parent in the UK.
To apply, you must present proof of your relationship. Eligibility for your partner requires being in a UK-recognised civil partnership or marriage, or having cohabited for a minimum of two years.
Children aged 16 and above must reside with their parents, unless they are pursuing full-time education at a boarding school or college. They should be unmarried, without dependants.
You should demonstrate that you are financially responsible for your children, which could include submitting supporting documents such as bank statements, NHS registration documents, or a letter from the child’s educational institution to prove their address.
The Health and Care Worker Visa Permissions and Restrictions
This visa category provides individuals with the opportunity to access the following activities:
- engage in eligible employment;
- participate in voluntary work;
- take on a secondary work, in certain circumstances;
- pursue studies;
- bring along a partner and children;
- travel in and out of the UK;
- apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years.
Despite the numerous privileges granted by this visa, certain limitations are in place. Individuals are unable to access most public funds or the state pension. Moreover, changing employers necessitates an update to the visa.
If you possess a Health and Care Worker Visa in the UK, you are permitted to take on a secondary job, whether paid or voluntary, as long as you continue to fulfil your sponsored job responsibilities. Additionally, working overtime in your sponsored job does not require updating your visa.
However, if you wish to exceed 20 hours per week, you will need to update your visa. Effective 27 August 2023, you can only work an additional 20 paid hours without updating your visa, and the job must fall under the same occupation code and level as your primary job or be in a shortage occupation.
To extend your Health and Care Worker Visa, you need to continue to meet the requirements of this immigration category.
Your dependent family members can also extend their visas by submitting applications, before their current visas expire.
How Can We Help?
Sterling Law is your trusted partner in securing the Health and Care Worker Visa in the UK. With our expert knowledge and experience in British immigration law, we provide comprehensive guidance to healthcare professionals looking to work in the United Kingdom. Our team of skilled immigration lawyers understands the intricate requirements and processes involved in obtaining the Health and Care Worker Visa.
We offer personalised support, helping you to ensure that you meet all the necessary criteria, gather the required documentation, and navigate the application process smoothly. By choosing Sterling Law, you can rest assured that you are in capable hands, maximising your chances of securing the Health and Care Worker Visa and pursuing your career in the thriving healthcare sector of the United Kingdom.