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Sponsoring Skilled Workers on the Health and Care Worker Visa

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The newspapers and the television news keep reminding us about the chronic shortage of health and care workers in the UK. In this article our immigration solicitors consider how UK employers can sponsor overseas skilled workers on the health and care worker visa.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence lawyers

For advice on sponsoring skilled workers or assistance with employment or immigration law call the expert London Sponsorship Licence lawyers  at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

The health and care worker visa

The health and care worker visa isn’t a visa route in its own right but part of the skilled worker visa route under the UK points-based immigration system.

If an overseas recruit fills the criteria for a health and care worker visa it is preferable for both the visa applicant and the UK employer for the job applicant to apply for the health and care worker visa rather than a skilled worker visa. That is because the immigration fees for the health and care worker visa are lower than those for the skilled worker visa and the health and care worker visa application is fast tracked in comparison to other visa routes.

The health and care worker visa allows a visa holder to live in the UK and work in sponsored employment for up to five years. After five years, the health and care worker visa holder can apply to settle in the UK if they meet the residence requirement. Once the health care worker has secured indefinite leave to remain, they can choose to apply for British citizenship.

Does a UK employer need a sponsor licence to recruit overseas workers in the health sector?

Given the recruitment crisis in the health sector, some UK employers have asked Sponsorship Licence lawyers if they need to apply for a sponsor licence if they only want to recruit skilled migrant workers in the health care sector. The answer is that any UK employer requires a Home Office issued sponsor licence if they want to recruit non-UK workers unless the overseas workers:

  • Have settled status or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
  • Are in the UK on a visa that enables them to work in the UK without requiring a sponsoring employer. For example, in the UK on agraduate visa or the global talent visa.
  • Have Indefinite leave to remain.
  • Are British citizens by naturalisation.

Which UK employers can apply for a sponsor licence to sponsor health care workers? 

The health and care worker visa enables overseas based health care workers to come to the UK for work within:

  • The NHS.
  • NHS suppliers.
  • Adult social care.

Does a health and care worker require a job offer before applying for a health and care worker visa?

As the health and care worker visa route is part of the skilled worker visa, an applicant for a health and care worker visa does require a job offer and a certificate of sponsorship from a sponsoring employer before they are able to apply for their work visa. It isn’t sufficient to say that there are loads of available health care jobs and nor is it possible to argue that the visa applicant should be able to choose the ideal job to suit them once they are physically in the UK. However, although a health and care worker visa applicant does require a job offer before they can secure their visa , once they are in the UK a health and care worker visa holder can change employment to a new sponsoring employer.

What are the eligibility criteria for a health and care worker visa?

In order to successfully apply for a health and care worker visa an applicant must:

  • Be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or an adult social care professional.
  • Have a job offer from a UK employer that has a Home Office issued sponsor licence to sponsor skilled worker visa applicants.
  • Be filling a job that is on the Home Office standard occupation code list as a job that meets the relevant skill criteria for a health and care worker visa. Even if there is a shortage of health workers in a particular area of expertise (such as care workers for the elderly) a sponsoring employer cannot employ a skilled migrant worker on a health and care worker visa unless the job the applicant is filling is included on the Home Office list of occupations. A sponsor licence holder risks the revocation of their sponsor licence if they do not comply with this immigration rules and incorrectly complete the job code on the certificate of sponsorship.
  • Be on a salary that is on or above the minimum salary threshold for a health and care worker visa.

If the job a UK employer is recruiting for does not meet the health and care worker visa criteria then it is worth checking to see if the job applicant would meet the criteria for a skilled worker visa. However, the job will still need to meet the Home Office issued job occupation codes and meet the skill and minimum salary threshold.

The minimum salary threshold for the health and care worker visa

The skilled worker visa eligibility criteria include a minimum salary threshold. The minimum salary threshold can be complicated depending on:

  • The job occupation and the going rate for the job. The going rate for the job is set by the government and not by an individual employer or by a trade union.
  • If the job is on the shortage occupation list.
  • The circumstances of the job applicant. For example, if the job applicant has a STEM PhD level qualification or the job applicant is  applying for a postdoctoral position in a scientific role.
  • If the job applicant meets the criteria for a ‘new entrant’.

Applying for a sponsor licence to sponsor a health and care worker visa worker

Some smaller UK employers are put off from recruiting skilled migrant workers on either the skilled worker visa or the health and care worker visa because they assume that applying for a sponsor licence will be complicated. Sponsorship Licence lawyers say the application process can be straightforward if the company has the right paperwork and HR systems in place. Even if it does not, Sponsorship Licence lawyers can help advise on what to do and can manage the sponsor licence if that is the best option for the company.

The sponsor licence application process can take a matter of weeks to obtain with the right Sponsorship Licence lawyer’s assistance. The sponsor licence will then be valid for four years provided that the sponsoring employer complies with its reporting and recording duties under the sponsor licence. If those duties seem onerous many can be outsourced through professional sponsor licence management services.

The eligibility criteria and minimum salary threshold for the health and care worker visa can be confusing for busy HR professionals and specialist health care recruiters. If you have questions about the health and care worker visa or sponsor licence application process, call the Sponsorship Licence lawyers for expert advice.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence lawyers

For advice on hiring overseas health care workers and sponsor licences call the immigration law team and Sponsorship Licence lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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