How to apply for a sponsor licence for your care home
Nowadays UK’s social welfare provided to senior citizens suffers from shortage of personnel while demand for such services increasing rapidly. However, a big number of care homes hire employees from other countries to close up the gap in this business.
According to UK immigration regulations, a company recruiting workers who do not have an existing right to work in the United Kingdom must obtain permission from Home Office beforehand by submitting an application for a sponsor licence. After receiving the licence, employers can “sponsor” caregivers from other countries to work under the Health and Care Worker visa.
This article provides a review of the Health and Care Worker visa and what advantages recruiters in social welfare can get and we will explain what steps a business has to make to apply for a sponsor licence.
What is the Health and Care Worker visa?
The Health and Care Worker visa was launched in august of 2020. It allows overseas medical workers to be officially employed by NHS and work as NHS suppliers or adult social care. Such visa is a component of the Skilled Worker route. The Health and Care Worker visa’s benefits include:
- Fast processing of visa to come to the UK.
- The help of special team of UKVI with processing candidates’ and their family members’ visa applications.
- Visa fees are reduced
- Applicants do not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.
This visa allows foreign care workers to live in the UK for up to 5 years. When visa expires, the applicants can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and even for British citizenship.
Temporary visa provisions for care workers
During the pandemic and widely spread workforce shortage, the government attempted to ease pressure on the adult social welfare. In order to do that the government made some temporal changes in immigration policy which entered into force in February 2022.
After the reform the care workers were added to the list of occupation codes eligible for the Skilled Worker route for an initial period of 12 months. Besides that at the same time this occupations were added to the Shortage Occupation List. This means that the applicants can apply for a visa regardless being paid a lower salary.
These amendments were made because of recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee, an independent body consults the Home Office on issues connected to immigration. It is expected that the reform will help with easing pressure on the sector under conditions of the pandemic and shortage of personnel.
How to apply for a sponsor licence for your care home
To sponsor your foreign workers within the Health and Care Worker route, your company must receive a Skilled Worker sponsor licence. To apply for this licence your business must have:
- An established business presence in the UK.
- A fixed office address.
- An adequate employee who will serve as the ‘Authorising Officer’. This worker will take responsibility for the Sponsor Licence but he can entrust day-to-day immigration administration to a colleague.
The process of applying for a sponsor licence consists of the following steps:
- Complete the application form online.
- Send necessary corporate documents: latest annual accounts; corporate bank account statement; employers’ liability insurance certificate; VAT registration certificate.
- Verify that the company maintains credible HR process, thus it is able to follow the strict reporting and monitoring rules applicable to all sponsors.
- Choose workers within your company to manage the sponsorship process. These people have to pass criminality and other background checks.
- Pay the fee. The price of a Sponsor Licence for small or charitable companies is £536. Large and medium businesses have to pay £1,476 upon application.
When the application process is over and the licence is granted, a sponsor can start issuing Certificates of Sponsorship for workers from other countries.
How much time does it take?
Employers who are willing to begin the sponsorship process should be ready to wait for several weeks for the licence and visa applications to be processed. Only after that the first sponsored overseas employee can start working.
It takes up to 8 weeks to process the sponsor licence and visa applications. If the correct documents are not supplied or the Home Office decides to visit your company during the pre-licence approval process, it can take more than 8 weeks to get the sponsorship.
Usually proceeding visa applications within the Health and Care Worker route takes 3 weeks. The war in Ukraine has affected the visa processing time because the Home Office gives priority to applications under the Ukraine visa schemes. Nevertheless, care workers are included into the shortage occupation list, Sterling Law noticed that the processing delays have not negatively impacted the applications under the Health and Care Worker route.
Where to get help
The UK’s immigration rules are complicated and care homes that have just decided to apply for sponsorship can be overwhelmed by it. However, the employers’ need for interacting with the sponsorship system to recruit the desirable staff is increasing rapidly especially now when it is hard to move across the EU. Thus employers must decide if becoming a licenced sponsor could help their companies’ strategy hiring new personnel.