What is the Health and Care Worker Visa?
The Health and Care Visa is a relatively new visa category created for overseas medical professionals who intend to come to the UK to work for the NHS, an NHS supplier or in the adult social care sector. This visa category was created to make it cheaper, quicker and easier for healthcare professionals to come to work in the UK.
The Health and Care visa is similar to the Skilled Worker Visa, both of these visas allow you to live and work in the UK, however, there are some differences. The Health and Care Worker Visa is only open to certain medical professionals and people in eligible health and care roles. Health and Care Visa holders pay reduced visa fees and are also not required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.
The Health and Care Visa is valid for up to 5 years, after this time you can apply to extend your visa if you wish to continue working in the UK. Providing that you continue to meet the eligibility requirements then you can extend your Health and Care visa as many times as you like. If you want to make the UK your permanent home then you may also be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after residing in the country for at least 5 years on this visa.
Who is eligible for a Health and Care visa?
The Health and Care Visa is only open to qualified doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who will be working in eligible roles in the UK health sector. As well as meeting the job requirements there are also a number of other criteria you must meet to qualify for the visa.
You could be granted a Health and Care Visa if you meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You are a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional
- You will be working in one of the eligible occupations in the health or social care sector
- You have a job offer from an employer in the UK who has been approved by the Home Office
- You have a Certificate of Sponsorship from your UK employer that provides information about the role you have been offered
- You meet the salary requirements – this varies depending on the type of role you will be doing
- You can read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale, you don’t need to meet this requirement if you are from a majority English speaking country or your have an eligible degree level academic qualification that was taught in English.
Usually, you must be paid at least £25,600 per year or £10.10 per hour to meet the minimum salary requirements for Health and Care Worker route. Your minimum salary will be higher than this if the going rate for your role is higher.
Each occupation code has its own going rate, you must earn at least the going rate for your role. For example, if your salary is £28,000 per year but the going rate for your occupation is £30,000 then you must earn at least £30,000 to meet the minimum salary requirement.
In some circumstances, you can still qualify for this visa if your salary is less than £25,600 per year. You can earn less than this if any of the following apply:
- Your job is in a role on the Shortage Occupation List
- You are either under the age of 26, a students or recent graduate or are in professional training
- You have a STEM PhD qualification that is relevant to your job
- You have a postdoctoral position in a scientific role
If any of the above apply then you can be paid between 70-90% of the going rate for your job providing your salary is at least t £20,480 per year. If you have a relevant PhD qualification then your salary can be £23,040 per year.
Certificate of Sponsorship requirements
To obtain your Health and Care Worker Visa you must hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by a government-approved employer in the UK. A Certificate of Sponsorship is not a physical document, it is an electronic record.
The Certificate of Sponsorship requirements differs slightly for Health and Care Workers than they do for Skilled Worker Visa applicants. If applying for a visa under the Health and Care route then your employer must also include a brief explanation in your Certificate of Sponsorship giving details about how you meet the Health and Care Worker requirements.
If your employer is an organisation that provides medical services for the NHS then they may also need to submit evidence of their contract with the NHS.
How to apply?
You must apply online for the Health and Care Worker Visa, you can do so using the application form available on the gov.uk website.
You apply for this visa using the Skilled Worker route, when applying you will be asked if you are applying for a Health and Care Worker Visa as part of your application, make sure that you tick yes on this question.
As part of your application, you will need to prove your identity, you can do this in one of two ways. You can either use the UK Immigration: ID Check app to scan your identity document or you can attend an appointment at a visa application centre near you to have your biometric information taken, this is your photograph and fingerprints.
To complete your application you must submit the application form, prove your identity, submit your supporting documents and pay the application fee.
You can apply for your visa up to 3 months before the date you intend to start work in the UK. You will usually receive a decision on your application within 3 weeks.
When making your application for a Health and Care Worker Visa you will need to submit certain documents and information to prove that you meet the eligibility criteria. You will need to provide:
- Your Certificate of Sponsorship reference number
- Proof of your knowledge of English – this may be your Secure English Language Test (SELT) results or proof of an eligible academic qualification taught in English.
- A valid passport or another national identity document
- The occupation code for your job
- Your job title and annual salary
- Who your employer is and their sponsor licence number – this will be on your CoS
- Your tuberculosis test results if you are from a country where the test is required
- Evidence that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK
For certain job roles, you may also need to submit a criminal record certificate. If you plan to bring eligible family members to the UK with you then you will need to provide documents proving your relationship with them.
All of your documents should be in English or Welsh, if your documents are in another language then you will need to get them translated by an official.
How much does it cost to apply?
The cost of applying for a Health and Care Visa varies depending on how long you will be in the UK for. If you plan to stay for up to 3 years then the application fee is £232. If you plan to stay for more than 3 years then the application fee is £464.
Citizens of some countries are eligible for a £55 reduction of the application fee, this applies to you if you are from one of the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.
As well as the application fee, you will also need to show that you have at least £1,270 in your bank account to support yourself in the UK.
What can I do on a Health and Care Worker Visa?
When living in the UK on the Health and Care Visa there are certain immigration rules that you must adhere to. This visa allows you to do the following:
- Work in an eligible job
- Do voluntary work
- Take on additional work (only in some circumstances)
- Bring your partner and dependent children to join you
- Travel in and out of the UK
- Apply for ILR after 5 years
Whilst this visa permits you to do many things in the UK there are some restrictions, you cannot access most public funds or the state pension and you cannot change employer unless you update your visa.
How can IAS help?
The Health and Care Visa is a relatively new visa category and it can be difficult to know whether you are eligible. Our lawyers are trained in all of the latest updates to UK immigration law, including the Health and Care Visa, we can assess whether you are eligible.
Visa application processes are complex but our team are here to help. If you decide to apply for the Health and Care Visa we will be there to support you throughout the process. Our lawyers can fill in the application form on your behalf, help you to gather all of your supporting documents and can liaise with the Home Office on your behalf.
For more information about our visa application services, contact us today on 0330 127 3408.
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No, Health and Care Worker Visa holders are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge. The Immigration Health Surcharge is a fee that most temporary immigrants in the UK are required to pay so that they can access NHS services, the surcharge is usually £624 per year.
With a Health and Care Worker visa, you do not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge and you can access NHS services for free.
Yes, as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements you can extend the Health and Care Worker Visa as many times as you like. You will need to be in the same job as when you were previously granted entry clearance, your job must be the same occupation code, you must have the same employer and you must still meet the salary requirements.
If you plan to make the UK your permanent home then you can also apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after you have lived in the UK for 5 years on this visa. Indefinite Leave to Remain will allow you to live, work and study in the UK without being subject to time limits.
The Health and Care Worker Visa does come under the Skilled Worker route and applications are made by applying for a Skilled Worker Visa and answering yes when asked if you are applying for a Health and Care Visa as part of your application.
However, the Health and Care Visa does differ from the regular Skilled Worker visa. Only certain healthcare professionals are eligible for this visa. As well as this, applicants for the Health and Care Worker Visa pay reduced visa fees and do not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. Health and Care Visa applications are also processed quicker.