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Immigration rules to be relaxed for care workers

The immigration rules are set to be relaxed for overseas care workers in a bid to recruit more staff to the UK.

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    Rules will be temporarily relaxed for care workers

    The government has announced that they will temporarily be relaxing the immigration rules for overseas care workers in an attempt to recruit more staff to the UK.

    Social care workers, care assistants and home care workers will become eligible for a Health and Care Visa for 12 months. Care Workers will also be added to the UK’s shortage occupation list, a list that makes it easier for immigrants in the listed occupations to receive a work visa so that they can fill gaps in the workforce.

    The Department of Health and Social Care said that the new measures would come into effect at the start of next year and that they would last at least 12 months. They said that the measures would then be reviewed.

    Health Secretary Sajid Javid said:

    “It is vital we continue to do all we can to protect the social care sector during the pandemic and beyond…These measures, together with the series of support packages announced since September, will help us ensure short term sustainability and success for our long-term vision to build social care back better.”

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    Care worker shortage

    The new measures come as the health and social care sector faces increasing problems with recruiting and keeping staff after Brexit.

    The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said that the care sector is currently facing “unprecedented challenges”, she added that relaxing the rules for the health and care visa would “alleviate some of the pressures currently being experienced”.

    Following Brexit and the end of free movement, EU social care workers no longer have an automatic right to work in the UK and must instead obtain a work visa. Work visas can be difficult to obtain for care workers, as many do not earn a high enough salary to be eligible.

    This month the Migration Advisory Committee recommended that care workers should be added to the shortage occupation list. Being added to the list will mean that the salary requirement will be lowered to £20,480 per year for care workers.
    The government have also said that applications from care workers will be fast-tracked and that there will be reduced visa fees.

    Will the new measures work?

    A statement from the government about the changes to the health and care worker visa claims that:

    “Thousands of additional care workers could be recruited to boost the adult social care workforce following temporary changes to the health and care visa to make social care workers, care assistants and home care workers eligible for a 12-month period. This will make it quicker, cheaper and easier for social care employers to recruit eligible workers to fill vital gaps,”

    The government has already created temporary work visas to tackle labour shortages in other industries in the UK including HGV drivers and poultry workers. However, many are doubtful that temporary measures will be enough to draw immigrants to the UK.

    Liberal Democrat health and social care spokeswoman Daisy Cooper has criticised the government’s plan, she said the relaxation of immigration rules was “too little, too late for everyone who has had their visits to a loved one in a care home cancelled this Christmas”. She added:

    “When Boris Johnson delivered Brexit he pulled the rug from under the care sector’s workforce. Now, the paltry offer of a one-year visa will likely fail to attract the numbers of care workers we so desperately need.”

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      How can IAS help?

      The UK’s changing immigration rules have made immigration applications more complex to understand for overseas workers.

      If you want to work in the UK then our expert immigration lawyers can help. We can provide you with reliable legal advice about your immigration options and can assess your eligibility for a work visa.

      Our team of immigration lawyers can also provide you with support throughout the application process, including filling in paperwork on your behalf, helping you to gather the necessary evidence and communicating with the Home Office on your behalf.

      For more information about our services, get in touch with us today on 0333 305 9375.

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