Health and Care Worker Visa Guide

Health and Care Worker Visa

If you are a healthcare professional looking to relocate to the UK for work, it’s likely you’ll need to apply for a Health and Care Worker Visa.

The Health and Care Worker Visa is a dedicated immigration route for qualified medical professionals.

The UK has a shortage of workers in the health sector, and this route was designed to allow eligible health professionals to take on work in healthcare roles to ease skills shortages.

The visa offers holders a number of benefits including the potential to settle in the UK and in time become eligible for British citizenship.

In this guide, we will explain the eligibility requirements and the process you will need to follow to make an application.

 

What is the UK Health and Care Worker Visa?

The Health and Care Worker Visa is a new visa category introduced in August 2020 that allows medical professionals to apply for a streamlined and less expensive visa process. It permits qualified doctors, nurses, and adult social care professionals to work for the National Health Service (NHS), an NHS supplier, or in the adult social care sector for up to 5 years at a time.

The Health and Care Worker Visa simplifies the process for qualified healthcare professionals from around the world to gain sponsored employment in their specialised fields. It also minimises application fees and eliminates the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee for both applicants and their dependants.

Most non-UK residents seeking to work in the UK as healthcare professionals will need to apply for a Health and Care Worker Visa.

The Health and Care Worker Visa is effectively a specialist sub-category of the temporary Skilled Worker Visa, offering applicants a number of benefits over the main Skilled Worker visa. The application fee for the Health and Care Worker Visa is considerably lower than the Skilled Worker Visa, and the Immigration Health Surcharge is waived for applicants to the Health and Care Worker Visa, whereas applicants for the Skilled Worker Visa are liable for a charge of £624 per year of the visa length.

 

What type of activities does the UK Health and Care Worker Visa allow?

With a Health and Care Worker Visa, you are allowed to do the following activities:

  • You can work in your eligible job
  • You can study at a university or college whilst working in your job
  • You can bring your spouse/partner and children as dependants if they meet eligibility criteria
  • You can undertake voluntary work – please note that during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no limit to the number of extra hours you can volunteer as an NHS paramedic, doctor, or nurse
  • You may be able to undertake additional paid work for up to 20 hours a week, if the job is at the same level and occupation code as your primary job or in a shortage occupation – please note that during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no limit to the number of extra hours you can work in a secondary job as an NHS paramedic, doctor, or nurse
  • You can travel abroad and return to the UK
  • You can apply for settlement in the UK via Indefinite Leave to Remain after living in the UK for five years, if eligible

 
You are not, however, allowed to claim state benefits.

Other conditions also apply to your visa, including the requirement to notify the Home Office if you change employers or jobs.

 

Health and Care Worker Visa eligibility requirements

To be eligible for the Health and Care Worker Visa, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must be a qualified healthcare professional
  • You must have a job offer for an eligible role
  • Your job must be with an employer who has been registered as an official sponsor by the Home Office – this must be the National Health Service (NHS), an NHS supplier, or an employer in the adult social care sector
  • Your employer must provide you with an official occupation code in line with your role and duties in the job
  • Your job must pay you the minimum salary or ‘going rate’ for your occupation type; this is generally at least £20,480
  • You must speak English at a minimum B1 Level as identified by the Common European Framework of Languages
  • You must have enough money saved to support yourself without relying on public funds or benefits – this will be at least £1,270; you do not need to provide this documentation if your employer has indicated on your Certificate of Sponsorship that they can support you
  • You must provide a criminal record certificate unless you work as a biological scientist, biochemist, or physical scientist
  • You must provide an up-to-date Tuberculosis certificate if required for your country of nationality

 

How to apply for a UK Health and Care Worker Visa

To apply for a UK Health and Care Worker Visa, you will need to follow the Home Office’s application process. Your employer may offer to support you or submit this application on your behalf as part of their recruitment process.

First, you must have been offered a qualifying job with a UK employer that is authorised by the Home Office to sponsor workers under the Health and Care Worker route. The list of sponsors, available on the Home Office website, outlines all NHS trusts, NHS suppliers, and employers in the adult social care sector that are eligible to sponsor Health and Care Worker visas.

Your job must also be included on a list of eligible occupations for the Health and Care Worker visa. Your job must issue you with a four-digit occupation code in line with your job title and job description. The eligible occupations and their occupation codes are as follows:

Role

Occupational code

Health services and public health managers and directors 1181
Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors 1242
Biological scientists and biochemists 2112
Physical scientists 2113
Medical practitioners 2211
Psychologists 2212
Pharmacists 2213
Ophthalmic opticians 2214
Dental practitioners 2215
Medical radiographers 2217
Podiatrists 2218
Health professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as audiologists and occupational health advisers 2219
Physiotherapists 2221
Occupational therapists 2222
Speech and language therapists 2223
Therapy professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as osteopaths and psychotherapists 2229
Nurses 2231
Midwives 2232
Social workers 2242
Laboratory technicians 3111
Paramedics 3213
Dispensing opticians 3216
Pharmaceutical technicians 3217
Medical and dental technicians 3218
Health associate professionals not elsewhere classified 3219
Nursing auxiliaries and assistants 6141
Dental nurses 6143
Senior care workers 6146

 

You will need to be paid at least the minimum salary threshold for your role. In most cases, you must be paid either £20,480 per year or the ‘going rate’ for the kind of job you have been offered – whichever is higher.

The Home Office assigns an annual ‘going rate’ for each occupation code, which you will need to check against your job role.

If your role meets the criteria, your employer will be permitted to issue you a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Second, you must provide documentation proving your proficiency in the English language. For the Health and Care Worker Visa, you must be able to understand, write, speak, and read English to a minimum B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

English language requirements can be proven in one of the following ways:

You have successfully passed a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from a UK government-approved provider of the exam
You possess UK secondary school qualifications in English that you earned by studying before the age of 18 at a school in the UK
You are a national of a majority English language country from the following list:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

 
Third, you will need to compile and prepare all supporting documents for your Health and Care Worker Visa application. Documentation must be in English or Welsh, or certified translations must be provided along with the original form documents. You will have to prepare the following mandatory documents and information:

  • Your Certificate of Sponsorship
  • Your annual salary, official job title, and job occupation code
  • Your valid passport with a blank page
  • Proof of your English language proficiency

 
You may additionally need to provide additional information such as the following, depending on your circumstances:

  • A PhD certificate if you studied in the UK or your Ecctis reference number if you studied outside the UK
  • An up-to-date Tuberculosis certificate if required for your country of nationality
  • A criminal record certificate, unless you work as a biological scientist, biochemist, or physical scientist
  • An Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, if you are researching or working at PhD level or higher in a job involving sensitive research subjects
  • Bank statements proving that you have enough personal savings for at least the past 28 days – at least £1,270 to support yourself financially in the UK; you do not need to provide this documentation if your employer has indicated on your Certificate of Sponsorship that they can support you
  • Proof of relationships, such as marriage certificates or birth certificates, of your relationship with your spouse/partner and children if they are applying with you as dependants
  • Certificates from countries you have lived in, depending on how long you lived in each country and your current age

 
How you submit your application will depend on whether you are applying from overseas or from within the UK.

 

Applying for a Health and Care Worker Visa from outside the UK

You will submit your Health and Care Worker Visa application online. You must either submit your application from your country of nationality or a country where you have valid immigration permission. At the end of the online application, you will need to pay the application fee. For a visa up to 3 years in length, this fee will be £232 per person. For a visa more than 3 years in length, this fee will be £464 per person. If you are from an EU country, your total application fee will be reduced by £55.

Next, you will need to book a biometrics appointment at a suitable visa application centre in your country of application. You can either upload your supporting documentation online before your appointment or pay an additional fee to have your supporting documentation scanned and uploaded at the appointment. You will have your fingerprints recorded, a photograph taken, and your supporting documentation confirmed at the biometrics appointment. Your passport will likely be sent to the UK government for an entry clearance stamp to be placed inside.

After this appointment, you will normally receive a decision within 3 weeks. You may be able to pay to receive a decision more quickly than this. If your application will take longer than 3 weeks, you will be contacted directly by the Home Office. If your application is successful, you will be issued entry clearance in your passport which will note the first date you can enter the UK. Upon arrival in the UK, you will need to retrieve your Biometric Residence Permit. It will either be shipped to a local Post Office or sent via courier to your mailing address.

 

Applying for a Health and Care Worker Visa from inside the UK

You will submit your Health and Care Worker Visa application online. At the end of the online application, you will need to pay the application fee. For a visa up to 3 years in length, this fee will be £232 per person. For a visa more than 3 years in length, this fee will be £464 per person. If you are from an EU country, your total application fee will be reduced by £55.

Next, you will need to book a biometrics appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point anywhere in the UK. It will cost £19.20 to book this appointment. You can either upload your supporting documentation online before your appointment or pay an additional fee to have your supporting documentation scanned and uploaded at the appointment. You will have your fingerprints recorded, a photograph taken, and your supporting documentation confirmed at the biometrics appointment. For some applicants, you may be able to use a mobile phone application instead of attending this appointment. You will be instructed on what to do when you submit your online application.

After this appointment or use of the mobile application, you will normally receive a decision within 3 weeks. You may be able to pay to receive a decision more quickly than this. If your application will take longer than 3 weeks, you will be contacted directly by the Home Office. You will be issued a decision letter or decision email from the Home Office. If your visa extension or visa switch is approved, your Biometric Residence Permit will be sent to your mailing address via courier.

 

Can I bring dependants to the UK with a Health and Care Worker Visa?

You may be able to bring dependants to the UK on a Health and Care Worker Visa. Their immigration status will be tied to yours throughout the duration of your visa. Dependants are considered the following:

  • A wife, husband, civil partner, or unmarried partner
  • A child under the age of 18
  • A child over the age of 18, if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant

 
As part of the supporting documentation for your Health and Care Worker Visa, you will need to provide evidence of your relationship to each of your dependants such as marriage certificates and birth certificates. For children over the age of 16, you may need to provide more specific documentation.

You will need to provide evidence of additional funds to support your dependant family members. In addition to the £1,270 in savings you will need to show evidence of for your own visa application, you or your child or your spouse/partner will need to demonstrate receipt of the following amounts of money for the past 28 days:

  • Your spouse/partner: £285
  • Your first child: £315
  • Additional children: £200

 
Each dependant will need to complete a separate visa application and pay the correct visa application fee. Each dependant will need to include your Unique Application Number on their online visa application.

 

Extending a UK Health and Care Worker Visa

The Health and Care Visa can last up to 5 years before needing an extension. You can extend your Health and Care Visa as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. As a Health and Care Worker, you and any of your dependants may be eligible for a free 1-year extension to your visa due to your service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. After 5 years on a Health and Care Visa, you may choose to apply for permanent residency in the UK rather than extending your current visa status.

 

Health and Care Worker Visa to ILR

If you have lived in the UK for at least 5 years on a Health and Care Worker Visa, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This settlement status allows you to remain in the UK indefinitely without being subject to immigration control.

With ILR, you can work for any employer without limitations, engage in self-employment, or study at any university without needing prior permission from the Home Office. You may also access public funds and benefits as a permanent resident. However, it is important to note that your Indefinite Leave to Remain status can expire if you leave the UK for more than 2 years.

The general eligibility requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain status through a Health and Care Visa are as follows:

  • You have lived in the UK legally for five years
  • You have not broken UK immigration laws over the past 5 years
  • You do not have a criminal record in the UK
  • You have not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in the past 12 months
  • You have successfully passed the Life in the UK Test
  • You speak English at a minimum B1 Level as identified by the Common European Framework of Languages
  • You meet the minimum salary requirement under the Health and Care Visa route for your specified job type

 
If you meet these requirements, you can apply online via ILR Form Set (O) to become a permanent resident of the UK. It currently costs £2,389 per person to apply for ILR, and your application will generally be processed within 6 months from the date of application. You can pay additional funds ranging from £500 to £800 to expedite your application.

 

Can I become a British citizen via a UK Health and Care Worker Visa?

If you have lived in the UK for at least 5 years and successfully been granted ILR, you may become eligible to apply for British citizenship. This citizenship status gives you the same rights as any other British citizen and there are no limitations on your ability to live, work, and study in the UK. You can also access public funds and benefits as a British citizen.

Importantly, citizenship carries certain benefits not afforded to those who only possess rights of permanent residence in the UK. These benefits include factors such as:

  • Requesting a British passport
  • Voting in all elections – however, you might be able to do so in some elections depending on your existing nationality
  • Standing as a candidate for elections – however, you might be able to do so in some elections depending on your existing nationality
  • Leaving the UK more than 2 years at a time without losing residence rights
  • Obtaining British citizenship for your children if they were born outside the UK

 
To qualify for naturalised British citizenship through your Health and Care Worker Visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be 18 years or over
  • You have lived within the UK for at least 3 years before the date of your application
  • You have held legal permanent residence status via Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least 12 months
  • You have not been absent from the UK in the past 12 months for more than 90 days
  • You must be able to prove that you were in the UK exactly 3 years before the day the Home Office receives your application
  • You have successfully passed the Life in the UK Test
  • You speak English at a minimum B1 Level as identified by the Common European Framework of Languages
  • You must meet the ‘good character’ requirements

 
Having lived in the UK for at least 5 years on a Health and Care Visa, there are many political, social, economic, and practical benefits of becoming a UK citizen. You may want to apply for British citizenship due to these benefits, or simply because the UK is your home.

 

Health and Care Worker visa FAQs

What is a Health and Care Worker Visa?

The Health and Care Worker Visa is a new visa category introduced in August 2020 that allows medical professionals to apply for a streamlined and less expensive work visa process. It permits qualified doctors, nurses, health professionals, and adult social care professionals to work for the National Health Service (NHS), an NHS supplier, or in the adult social care sector for up to 5 years.

How much is the application fee for the Health and Care Worker Visa?

For a visa up to 3 years in length, this fee will be £232 per person. For a visa more than 3 years in length, this fee will be £464 per person. If you are from an EU country, your total application fee will be reduced by £55.

Do I need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge fee for the UK Health and Care Worker Visa?

Unlike other work visas, applicants to the UK Health and Care Worker Visa are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee. This is one of the primary benefits of this visa category as it saves applicants up to £3,120 for a single application. Dependant family members of applicants are also exempt from the IHS fee.

 

Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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