In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK government introduced the Health and Care Worker Visa in 2020. It was clear, even before Brexit, that the healthcare sector was suffering a shortage of workers. However, Brexit, coupled with the pressures of the pandemic, hit the healthcare sector in ways that the UK wasn’t prepared for.
The introduction of this visa was designed to attract healthcare workers from across the world to help plug the gap. There are aspects of this visa which are being marketed as an attractive option, specifically:
- Fast-track processing at no additional cost. Health and Care Worker visas are processed as a priority application and are usually decided within three weeks. This is much shorter than the standard processing time of up to eight weeks.
- The immigration health surcharge does not apply. This is attractive to applicants and employers alike as payments towards the health surcharge are restrictive. For most visa applications the cost is usually £624 per year. This can be extremely expensive for a migrant coming to the UK with family as the health surcharge is payable per person.
- Reduced visa fees. The application fee for a visa for more than three years is £464 per person with a further reduction of £55 for EU applicants. The standard application fees range from £1,220 – £1,408 per person applying to stay in the UK for more than three years.
To make a successful application for a Health and Care visa, the applicant must:
- Be a qualified healthcare professional or adult social care professional.
- Work in an eligible health or social care job (please see below for the full list of eligible occupations).
- Work for a UK employer that has been approved by the Home Office i.e. the NHS, an organisation providing medical services to the NHS (e.g. a laboratory), or an organisation providing adult social care.
- Be assigned a certificate of sponsorship.
- Be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work the migrant will be doing.
Only applicants in the following occupations can apply for a Health and Care Worker Visa:
- 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
In addition to the above, applicants need to prove suitable English language skills and be able to meet the financial requirement, unless the employer is certifying maintenance on behalf of the applicant.