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The UK Health and Care Worker visa Application: Cost and Eligibility Criteria

It might surprise you to know that the UK's National Health Service is the worlds fifth-largest employer, with more staff than Amazon, McDonald's, and the People's Liberation Army of China. So it stands to reason that with a staff of nearly 1.9m people, there is always considerable demand for clinical staff of all levels from overseas. It is estimated that overseas nationals make up around 14% of the total workforce of the NHS. The NHS and the health and social care sector in the UK are, however, facing something of an existential staffing crisis. There are over 100,000 vacancies within the service, a number which was estimated before the UK left the EU, bringing an end to free movement between the two. As a result, there is likely to be a significant increase in the number of vacancies in 2021 and beyond. It is believed that around 8,000 nurses have been recruited by the NHS in the past ten months to fill vacancies, including in critical care, as a response to the pandemic. According to the Independent, thirty critical care nurses from India joined the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust in February, and another 300 will be joining other trusts around the UK. In this article, we will explain how to apply for a UK Health and Care Worker visa, including the costs and eligibility criteria that must be met.

What Is The UK Health And Care Visa?

The Health and Care visa was created to provide a fast-track for overseas nationals with medical and care skills to come to the UK to work in an eligible role with the NHS, an NHS supplier, or in the adult care sector. Successful applications can live and work in the UK for a period of five years and extend their visa as many times as they wish. After five years, migrant workers with a Health and Care visa will also have the option to apply for permanent settlement (referred to as indefinite leave to remain). There are considerable advantages of permanent residence, including the ability to switch employers, claim benefits, and there is no requirement to apply for further visas.

What Are The Eligibility Criteria For The UK Health And Care Visa?

In order to make a successful application for a Health and Care visa, you must:

  • be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional
  • work in eligible health or social care job
  • work for a UK employer that's been approved by the Home Office
  • have a 'certificate of sponsorship' from your employer with information about the role you've been offered in the UK
  • be paid a minimum salary - how much depends on the type of work you do

Only applicants in the following occupations can apply for a Health and Care visa (note the four-digit number is the standard occupation code – SOC):

  • 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

Before applying for your visa, you must already have a job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from either the NHS, an organisation providing medical services to the NHS (e.g. a laboratory), or an organisation providing adult social care. Your salary must be at least £20,480 (unless the 'going-rate' for your job is more than this).

Other eligibility requirements

In addition to meeting the job offer, occupation and salary criteria, you will also need to prove to the Home Office as part of your application that you satisfy the English language requirement by either:

  • passing an approved language test for reading, writing, speaking and understanding English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
  • having a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, or;
  • having a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English.
  • being from an exempt country.

You will also need to show you have enough money to support yourself while in the UK (£1,270 held in your bank for 28 days), however, this will not be required if you have already been in the country for one year or more on a valid visa. If you do not have sufficient support funds, you may choose to ask your employer to provide a letter of support, which the Home Office will also accept.

How Much Does A UK Health And Safety Visa Cost?

The application fee for a health and care visa is currently set at £232 per person for a visa of up to three years and £464 per person for a visa of more than three years. This amount is reduced by £55 if you are applying from an EU country. There is no requirement to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge (this is normally £624 per person per year), hence a significant saving can be made when compared to applying for a standard Skilled Worker visa.

Wrapping Up

Given the urgent need for health and care workers in the UK, once your application is submitted, you can expect to receive a decision quickly, usually within three weeks. If you need any assistance with your application, perhaps to verify your eligibility or that you have completed the form correctly and provided the necessary evidence, speak to an immigration Solicitor in the UK who will be able to look over your application prior to submission.

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