Purpose of the Health and Care Worker Route
Following the introduction of temporary measures by the Home Office to address the problem of shortage of care workers in February 2022, the role of care workers has been added to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). This development has also opened up eligible jobs for skilled workers overseas for the first time since Brexit, but a sponsor licence would be needed to activate the route fully.
This skilled worker route is designed to ensure that every organisation providing medical services can bring in skilled workers to fill the employment gap. However, any company that would bring in foreign workers must apply for and own a sponsor licence for care workers. Once the Home Office confirms that a genuine vacancy is involved, the company (UK employer) with a licence can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to an eligible overseas care worker.
To obtain a sponsor licence, the company must also prove to the Home Office that it is a genuine organisation operating legally in the UK. It must also be capable of discharging its sponsor duties and other immigration rules surrounding sponsor licence for senior care workers.
An employer in the health sector also needs to satisfy the UK Visas and Immigration department that it can offer workers from genuine overseas employment that fits their job description. Most importantly, care providers must note that the sponsorship system is not a channel to bring care workers to the UK only for them to work for someone else. The rule is that a health professional must work for the company offering the sponsorship – not a third party.
Procedures of Sponsoring Overseas Care Workers
The sponsor licence application for care workers has been divided into three simple steps. Both medium and large organisations must observe the following procedures:
1. Application for a Sponsor Licence
Every UK company offering medical services, such as home carers, must get a sponsor licence before they can sponsor any health and care worker. This online application form must be supported by other essential documents that will make your application sound more convincing to the Home Office. Ideally, you should get a decision on your application within 8 to 10 weeks, but it may take longer if the Home Office decides to run a physical compliance check on your facilities.
Meanwhile, a sponsor licence is valid for 4 years and can be used to sponsor multiple skilled workers within the health and care sector. If your sponsor licence application process is rejected, you may only reapply after 12 months.
2. Sponsorship of a New Migrant Worker Through the Issuance of the Certificate of Sponsorship
This stage of sponsor licence for care sector employees is where the worker will be issued an electronic document. This contains the important details of the care worker, the job requirements, and all the eligibility requirements which must have been fulfilled.
An employer who is sponsoring a foreign worker must ensure that the information supplied in the CoS is correct and that they conform with all immigration standards. This implies that the jobs for which CoS can be issued are solely for skilled medical professionals, and the minimum salary requirement for the jobs must have been met. Usually, you should receive a response within 3 to 5 working days of applying. However, the immigration team, through the Home Office, may request additional details, which can add up to 2 to 3 weeks.
3. Application for a Health and Social Care Visa by the Skilled Worker
The skilled worker route for a health and care worker remains incomplete until the skilled worker is granted a visa to enter the UK. To be eligible for a visa, this care worker must demonstrate that they meet the requirements of the CoS and possess proficient English-speaking capabilities. Furthermore, a clear criminal history will also be considered before the skilled care worker visa can be approved, and feedback often takes around three weeks.
Number of Care Workers That Can be Sponsored At a Time
There is no limit on the number of home carers or care workers you can sponsor as long as your sponsor licence is valid. However, there are some factors you need to consider:
- You Can Only Sponsor Senior Care Workers
This is based on the premise that the role of a non-senior care worker cannot be regarded as a “skilled” worker. A simple way to identify a senior care role is if they have some administrative responsibility on their shift, which explains why the Home Office takes this requirement very seriously.
Therefore, the Home Office can introduce extra measures to confirm if the sponsoring skilled worker is genuinely “senior.” On the other hand, you need to strike a balance and abstain from suspicious moves such as presenting all your care workers as “senior.” This is bound to raise an eyebrow and might negatively affect the entire sponsor licence application.
- You Must Justify the Number of Workers From Overseas You Seek to Sponsor
When allocating the number of CoS for a sponsor licence application, it is important to consider your business needs carefully. Ensure that the number of CoS you request reflects actual requirements and demonstrates an understanding of your recruitment process. It is advisable to provide evidence with your application that supports the projected demand for skilled workers in your business.
Application Fee for the Sponsorship Licence of Care Workers
Before your online application can be approved for the recruitment of overseas workers and home carers, you’ll need to pay certain Home Office fees. The application fee depends on the size and operations of your business. The fee is currently pegged at:
- £536 for small businesses. This also applies to small or charitable sponsors.
- £1,476 for medium and large organisations.
While applying for a sponsor licence in the UK health sector, another way to determine a small company is when at least 2 of the following apply:
- You have 50 workers or less
- Your total assets are pegged at £5.1 million or less
- Your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less
The application fee is non-refundable even if you withdraw the application after consideration has started, or the application is declined.
We understand that recruiting international care workers can be complex and time-consuming, so Immigration Advice Service is here to provide comprehensive support. Our experienced team of advisers will guide you through the process, from helping your business apply for a sponsor licence to processing applications for individuals under the Health and Care Worker route.
We’ll ensure that your business meets all the requirements so you can rest assured that each application submitted complies with UK immigration legislation. As a sponsor, you will be responsible for managing your employees’ compliance, and our advisers are here to help you every step of the way.
Immigration Advice Service offers reliable and professional support for all your care worker recruitment needs. Get in touch today by calling 0333 305 9375 to find out how we can help you recruit the best global talent for your business.
Unlike the licence application fee, which the employer must pay, the potential employee is meant to pay for the visa application fee. The visa application fee costs £247 if the Certificate of Sponsorship is issued for 3 years or less but £479 if over 3 years.
Yes, this is possible as long as the skilled health workers are working for the employer holding the sponsor licence. This also agrees with the provisions of section 1 (24-28) of the Guidance for Sponsors. It is illegal to recruit a foreign worker for a third party, regardless of the contractual agreement in place.
While sponsoring skilled workers to offer medical services, you agree to be responsible for their regular monitoring, record keeping, and proper updates to the Home Office. You must also understand all the diverse duties and responsibilities expected of an employer applying for a sponsor licence.