The Health and Care visa scheme is to be expanded in an attempt to try and boost the social care workforce. This follows the recent £462.5 million investment in the Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund and the £500 million investment as part of the Health and Social Care Levy.
What is the Health and Care Worker visa?
The Health and Care Worker visa launched in August 2020, allowing medical professionals to come to or stay in the UK to work with the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care.
The Health and Care visa comes under the Skilled Worker route. The Health and Care scheme offers numerous advantages to medical professionals particularly. Compared to the Skilled Worker route for other professions, the Health and Care Worker scheme will offer:
- 50% visa fee reduction
- Exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
- Speedier decision following an application (decision within 3 weeks)
- Applicants’ dependents pay reduced fees and are also exempt from the IH
Expansion of the scheme
In an effort to boost the adult social care workforce following pandemic pressures, care staff (social care workers, care assistants and home care workers) will be eligible to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa starting from 15th February 2021. The occupations will feature alongside senior care workers, registered managers and other medical professions which are already included on the list. Social care workers, care assistants and home care workers will be eligible to apply for the scheme over a minimum period of 12 months (from February 2022 onwards).
In addition to this, social care workers, care assistants and home care workers will be added to the shortage occupation list on 15th February 2022, reflecting pandemic pressures on the health care sector.
In summary, the following will be the requirements for an overseas care worker to be eligible for the Health and Care visa:
- Eligible job offer from an approved sponsor (the employer must be an approved and licensed Home Office sponsor)
- Meet the English Language requirement
- Be paid at least £20,480 (£10.10 / 39 hour week)
The addition of care workers to this scheme reflects that they will be the only occupation under RQF level 3 that is eligible to use the Points Based System (PBS). Social care workers, care assistants and home care workers will be eligible to stay in the UK for up to 5 years under the Health and Care Worker visa. Care workers and carers will be able to bring their dependants on the Health and Care Worker visa. And should they remain employed, the visa will offer them a pathway to settlement.
All roles in SOC Code 6145 will be brought into scope of this visa change. According to ONS this includes the job titles: Care Assistant, Care Worker, Carer, Home Care Assistant, Home Carer and Support Worker (Nursing Home).