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What is the Domestic Worker Visa and How to Apply

The Domestic Worker visa, also known as the Domestic Helper visa or the Overseas Domestic Worker visa, is the main immigration route for foreign domestic workers coming to the UK to work in a private household for their overseas employer. The Domestic Helper visa UK scheme is intended for domestic staff, including nannies, cleaners, cooks, drivers (chauffeurs), and individuals who provide personal care for the employer and their family.

Those granted a Domestic Worker visa can stay in the UK for up to 6 months, and holders must return home at the end of this period as there is no option to extend. The Domestic Worker visa also does not provide a route to ILR (settlement in the UK). That said, if you first applied for a Domestic Worker visa before 5th April 2012, different rules apply, and you may be able to extend your visa and apply for settlement (see below for details).

Application fees for the Domestic Worker visa UK are currently £531.

In this article, we will explain who can apply for a Domestic Worker visa, the visa requirements, and how to apply for the UK Domestic Worker visa.

Who can apply for a UK Domestic Worker visa?

You will be able to apply for a UK Domestic Worker visa if you work for an overseas employer in a personal services role for a private household, e.g. a nanny, cleaner, cook, housekeeper, chauffeur, gardener, or if you provide private personal care.

Your sponsoring employer must be a British national who normally resides outside the UK and will not be staying in the UK for more than 6 months. Alternatively, your employer can be a foreign national who is coming to the UK to visit and also will not be staying for more than 6 months.

What you can do and cannot do on a UK Domestic worker visa

As a holder of a UK Domestic Worker visa, you will be able to:

  • work
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • change employers – but only to the same role as a domestic worker in a private household – you will still be subject to the same maximum stay of 6 months.

You will not, however, be permitted to:

  • work in a different job
  • use the Domestic Worker visa as a way of living in the UK for a long time by making lots of frequent visits
  • access public funds (e.g. benefits)

If you are looking for a more permanent work visa route, you can consider the UK skilled worker visa.

UK Domestic worker visa requirements

Domestic Helper visa UK applicants must meet certain eligibility criteria as defined by the Home Office; specifically, you must:

  • be 19 years of age or older
  • have been working with your overseas employer for at least 12 months
  • perform your role in the same household as your employer (or the household they use regularly)
  • be paid at least the UK national minimum wage
  • be travelling to the UK with your employer, their partner/children
  • be working as a full-time domestic worker in a UK household that your overseas employer will be living in
  • leave the UK at the end of your visa (i.e. before it expires)
  • have enough money to support and accommodate yourself in the UK without the need to request public funds

National minimum wage

To make a successful application for a Domestic Worker visa, your sponsoring employer must pay you at least the national minimum wage. The UK’s national minimum wage changes each year on 1st April. As of 1st April 2022, the Domestic Worker visa UK minimum wage is as follows:

  • for those aged between 18 and 20: £6.83 per hour
  • for those aged between 21 and 22: £9.18 per hour
  • for those aged 23 and over: £9.50 per hour

How to apply for a domestic worker visa

To apply for a Domestic Worker visa from outside the UK, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Complete the online application form1 for a Domestic Worker visa
  2. Pay the application fee
  3. Upload any documents required
  4. Book and attend a biometric appointment at your nearest visa application centre (VAC) to have your fingerprints scanned and photo taken.

You can apply for your Domestic Worker visa up to 3 months before the date you intend to come to the UK.

Domestic Worker visa applications typically take up to 3 weeks to process. However, you may be given the option to pay extra for a faster decision. This will depend on which country you are applying from.

Can you extend or renew a Domestic Worker visa?

It is not possible to apply for an extension under the current domestic worker visa rule. However, if you first applied for a Domestic Worker visa before 5th April 2012, you will be able to:

  • extend your Domestic Worker visa every 12 months
  • submit an application for ILR in the UK after 5 years of continuous residence here (you must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any consecutive 12-month period). To apply for ILR, you will also need to:
    • Meet the English language requirement (i.e. pass an English language test at level CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening, or have a degree that was taught in English). You will not need to meet this requirement if you are from one of the English-speaking countries listed by the Home Office2.
    • Pass the Life in the UK test
  • bring your dependant partner and children with you to the UK

UK employment rights for Overseas Domestic workers

The Home Office will want to see that your sponsoring employer will meet UK employment law. This means your UK employment rights must be met, including:

  • pay you an agreed rate which meets or exceeds the UK’s national minimum wage
  • they cannot force you to work excessive hours
  • they must provide you with any agreed holiday pay
  • providing you with sufficient notice to which you are legally entitled if they wish to terminate your employment.

For assistance on your UK Domestic Worker visa, speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

References

1 GOV.UK: Online application form for Domestic Helper visa

2 GOV.UK: Knowledge of english

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