Recruiting Overseas Care and Nursing Home Workers on the Health and Care Worker Visa banner


Recruiting Overseas Care and Nursing Home Workers on the Health and Care Worker Visa

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This week the British Medical Association (BMA) held its annual representative meeting. High on the agenda was the state of the NHS as the NHS celebrated its 75th birthday on 5 July 2023. Unsurprisingly strikes by hospital consultants, junior doctors and nurses were on the agenda together with views expressed on the government initiative to train more doctors, nurses and care workers from within the UK population.

There was a lot of talk at the 2023 BMA annual representative meeting, and in the media, on whether the government’s training proposals for medics would ‘dumb down’ health qualifications as well as questions about whether anything would be done to retain trained healthcare staff in the NHS as countries seek to poach highly skilled staff from the NHS, in much the same way as the UK attempts to do so with its health and care worker visa that attracts non-UK citizens to come to the UK to work in the health care sector as doctors, nurses or care providers.

In this article, our immigration solicitors take a look at the health and care worker visa because it seems generally accepted by NHS trust managers, private hospitals, GP practices, medical facilities, and care and nursing home, that there is and will continue to be a recruitment crisis in the healthcare sector that can only be met in the short to medium term by overseas recruitment. That means health sector employers sponsoring workers from overseas to meet the ever-growing health demands of an ageing UK population and lengthening NHS waiting lists.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence and health and care worker advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Visas for medical professionals and care sector workers

When we need medical help for our children, physio to treat a back injury due to sitting hunched over a computer through working from home or when we are looking for a nursing home for grandma or a care home for grandad, we expect immediate service. Nowadays it can seem as if we rarely get it.

That’s despite the fact that the NHS and private sector health and care facilities already rely heavily on staff from overseas to provide the whole range of healthcare provisions from consultant appointments to GP referrals to basic health care within our hospitals and care homes.

Although some time ago the government introduced a specialist health and care worker visa as part of the skilled worker visa some employers in the care home sector do not appreciate that this visa can provide recruitment solutions for them. The visa is not confined to the recruitment of overseas-based hospital consultants, doctors and qualified nurses. It also covers ancillary health professionals, such as physiotherapists and nursing auxiliaries and some care and nursing home staff.

Recruiting staff on health and care worker visas

For UK healthcare sector employers, the overseas recruitment process is not as daunting as it may first appear. Once you have the right legal support with your sponsor licence application and help with managing the licence, you may soon find that sponsoring an overseas worker becomes as routine as employing a British citizen or a person with settled status in the UK.

Our Sponsorship Licence lawyers say that there is a 6 stage process when recruiting employees on the skilled worker visa and health and care worker visa:

  1. Find out if the healthcare jobs you need to fill are included in the list of jobs, with associated standard occupational classification codes, produced by the government. If you are not sure if your job vacancies meet the criteria speak to a business immigration lawyer
  2. Check if the business has a sponsor licence. If it does not have a licence an application will need to be made to the Home Office. If the recruitment need is urgent a company can ask the Home Office to prioritise the application by paying for the Home Office priority service
  3. Apply for a sponsor licence. Your health facility or care home may need to do a bit of work before submitting the licence application to ensure the application has a good chance of success. For example, a Sponsorship Licence lawyer may need to advise you on the documents required in support of your application, your choice of key personnel or how your administrative systems need to be tweaked to show that your HR practices would comply with the sponsor licence reporting and recording duties
  4. Post the job vacancy and carry out your recruitment process. When drawing up the job vacancy job specification a business must make sure that the job role fits with one of the eligible jobs that qualify for a health and care worker visa
  5. Apply for a certificate of sponsorship and allocate it to the recruit
  6. Support the recruit with their health and care worker visa application and potentially with any dependant visa applications if they intend to bring family members to the UK with them

Social care workers

The social care sector is struggling to recruit sufficient numbers of care and nursing home staff but Sponsorship Licence lawyers find that care home owners or managers can be reluctant to consider applying for a sponsor licence to sponsor overseas staff for a whole host of reasons, such as:

  1. They do not think that care workers will qualify for a visa as the workers they need are not doctors or medics
  2. They think their company is too small to qualify for a sponsor licence
  3. They assume that the costs of applying for a sponsor licence will be prohibitive
  4. They are worried about the administrative burden of complying with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties and the increased overhead
  5. They live in the hope that the recruitment crisis in the UK nursing and care home sector will magically disappear

Sponsorship Licence lawyers can talk your business through any of those concerns and explain how a sponsor licence may enable your company to recruit an array of overseas health workers including senior care workers, residential, day and domiciliary care managers, care assistants, care workers, resident wardens, carers, home care assistants, home carers, and nursing home support workers. That list is not exhaustive – there are lots more eligible healthcare jobs.

The minimum salary threshold for the health and care worker visa

Nursing and care home businesses are often put off from applying for a sponsor licence to sponsor overseas health workers because of the minimum salary threshold. However, the pay threshold for the health and care worker visa may be lower than the skilled worker visa and it can be surprisingly affordable for many health care companies.

The immigration rules say that a worker employed via a health and care worker visa must either be paid the minimum salary threshold or the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher. The going rate is set nationally by the government rather than by individual employers.

In some cases, a visa holder can be paid between 70% – 90% of the going rate for their job and its allocated standard occupational classification code provided that the worker is paid at least £20,480 gross per year and they fall within a specific category, such as the job they have been employed to do is on the shortage occupation list, or the worker is classed as a new entrant, or the worker has a STEM subject PhD and their PhD is relevant to the job they have been employed to do.

Sponsorship Licence lawyers recommend that employers in the healthcare sector take advice on whether their vacancies fall within the scope of permitted jobs on the health and care worker visa and the minimum salary threshold as wading through the immigration rules to get the information your company requires and then applying it to your situation and planned vacancies is not always a straight forward exercise.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence and health and care worker visa advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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