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UK Pharmacist Visa: A Guide For Employers & Pharmacists

The UK is in desperate need of more health and care workers. With the NHS struggling, overseas workers such as pharmacists are an incredible benefit to aiding the UK healthcare system. However, like any visa, understanding how to employ pharmacists from overseas can be complex.

This is why it can be useful to have a lawyer or legal advisor who is an expert in immigration law to help with the process. Here at IAS, our legal team is experts in immigration law and can help you and your future employees get through the visa process smoothly. Give us a call today at +44 (0)333 305 9375 and let us help get you started.

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    UK Pharmacist Visa (Health And Care Worker Visa UK)

    The health and care worker visa allows those who are medical professionals to enter and stay in the UK doing an eligible NHS job, work with an NHS supplier, or work in adult social care.

    For the applicant to qualify for a Health and Care Worker visa in the UK, they must fit the following requirements:

    • The applicant must be a qualified doctor, health professional, nurse, or adult social care professional.
    • The applicant must work an eligible job in health or social care.
    • The applicant requires a certificate of sponsorship from their potential employer containing information regarding the role that they have been offered in the UK.
    • The applicant must be paid a minimum salary that depends on the type of work conducted.
    • The applicant must be offered employment by an employer in the UK that has been approved by the Home Office.

    Before applying for a visa, the employee must have a confirmed job offer.

    Applicants also need to be able to speak, read, and write English. An applicant will typically need to prove that they have knowledge of English upon their application.

    If an applicant is not eligible for this visa, there are other options available; however, if the applicant is eligible, this visa is valid for five years before it would require an extension, and it can be extended as many times as needed as long as the applicant still meets the eligibility requirements for the visa.

    Outsourcing staff from overseas can be a complicated process. Speak to our immigration team for help today.

    Hiring Overseas Pharmacists And The Health And Care Worker Visa

    As of 2020, the UK government made a statement that overseas pharmacists were included in the Health and Care Worker visa and that they were also included for the fast-tracking of this visa. This also made them exempt from the immigration health surcharge as well.

    This is quite unsurprising since the NHS has struggled to recover since the 2020 pandemic, and overseas workers in the healthcare sector are making a massive contribution to aiding the recovery of the UK health service.

    This means that pharmacists were selected among the health professionals who could apply for this visa, and they can expect to get a decision on their visa in just three weeks. Application costs are also lower.

    This came into place in 2020, at the time of the pandemic, and with the NHS still needing workers, it is still effective. However, workers can apply to get a decision on their visa application even faster by paying an additional fee; however, this option is dependent on whether or not the applicant is inside or outside of the UK.

    Organisations seeking to hire overseas pharmacists via the Health and Care Worker visa can therefore expect a faster visa application process and faster decision than is available for other Skilled Worker categories.

    However, it is still necessary for businesses to have their systems in place. Organisations hiring Health and Care workers from overseas are required to have a sponsorship licence, and a sponsorship management system in place before they can hire an overseas pharmacist.

    Therefore, for the process to be as fast as possible, businesses should ensure that they are prepared for this part of the process as soon as they decide to hire from overseas.

    How To Hire Pharmacists From Overseas: Business Requirements

    Businesses looking to hire pharmacists from overseas will need to obtain a pharmacist visa sponsorship in the UK to be able to do so. They can add overseas workers to their pharmacy team, whether they are an NHS organisation or an independent pharmacy, as long as they have a Health and Care visa sponsor licence.

    For organisations in the United Kingdom to obtain a sponsor licence for healthcare professionals, they need to apply for a Sponsor Licence from the Home Office. getting a sponsor licence requires the business to meet particular business requirements

    One of the key aspects of obtaining a sponsor licence is ensuring that the organisation acquires the correct type of licence. A Health and Care Visa usually falls under a Skilled Worker visa. It is also pivotal to ensure that the job description for the employee’s role meets the requirements for this type of visa.

    Employers can check the occupation code eligibility for this visa. Pharmacist visas are eligible, and the occupation code for this is 2213; however, if a business is hiring pharmacy technicians, the occupation code is 3217.

    The worker must have a job offer from an approved UK employer; this means that the business must be a sponsor licence holder and must be either NHS-based, an organisation that provides medical services to the NHS, or provides adult social care. Employers need to apply for a sponsor licence and pay a fee for it, which varies depending on the type of business.

    To apply for the licence, the business must send over a completed application form on the government website and submit any supporting documents.

    Our team of legal experts can help you hire pharmacists from overseas.

    Sponsorship Management

    Overview

    When applying for a sponsor licence, the business will need to appoint people inside the business into roles for managing the sponsorship process in licence applications. The primary tool used for this process is the SMS (Sponsorship Management System), and the roles an organisation needs to fill include the following:

    • Sponsor Licence Personnel & Authorising Officers: These are senior, competent individuals who are responsible for the actions of representatives and staff using the SMS.
    • Key Contact Person: This person acts as the primary point of contact with the UK Visas and Immigration Department (UKVI).
    • Level 1 users: These persons are responsible for all the day-to-day running and management of the sponsor licence using the SMS.

    Businesses can also appoint level 2 users once they have their licence, but the above three roles are critical to be filled before applying for a licence, as the Home Office needs to be certain that these roles are filled before a business becomes a sponsor licence holder.

    Suitability

    Staff and the organisation will be checked over by the Home Office to ensure that those in these positions are suitable for these roles. If anyone involved in this process is not considered suitable, the licence may not be granted.

    Criteria that will be considered unsuitable include the following:

    • Any unspent criminal convictions for offences in the guidance for sponsors.
    • Having been fined by UKVI in the last year.
    • Been reported to UKVI.
    • Broken the law.
    • Failed to pay VAT or excise duty.
    • Been a key person at a sponsor that lost their licence in the last year.

    Allocated staff and the business itself need to fit the following criteria:

    • The staff and business must be based in the United Kingdom.
    • The person or business cannot be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project.
    • The persons allocated cannot have a history of non-compliance with the requirements of a sponsor licence.
    • The persons allocated cannot be subject to bankruptcy restriction orders or undertakings; they also cannot have any debt relief restriction orders or undertakings.

    Pharmacists’ Qualifications & Requirements To Qualify For The Health And Care Visa

    When the worker applies for their visa, they will need to have certain documents prepared. These include:

    • A certificate of sponsorship reference number, given by the employer.
    • Proof of English language knowledge.
    • A valid passport or other similar travel documents that show nationality and identity.
    • Occupation code for the job.
    • The name of the prospective employer and their sponsor licence number, as available on your certificate of sponsorship.

    The worker will also need to meet the salary requirements for their job, which is usually at least £20,960; if the ‘going rate’ is above this, then they will need to be paid at least the ‘going rate’.

    Applicants also need to supply a criminal record certificate if applying from outside the UK. The only exception to this is if the applicant is a physical scientist, biological scientist, or biochemist.

    Should the applicant have lived in more than one country, they will need to provide a certificate from every country they have lived in, depending on their age and how long they have stayed in each country. Being under the age of 28 will require the applicant to supply a certificate from any country they have stayed in for a year or more since turning 18 years of age.

    If you want to get assistance for obtaining a UK pharmacist visa, get in touch with us today.

    Applying For The UK Health And Care Visa

    Overview

    An applicant can apply for a UK Health and care visa from inside or outside of the UK; they will need to provide proof of identity and supporting documents. This means they will also need to have their biometrics taken at a visa application centre or use the UK Immigration: ID Check app to scan ID documents.

    Applicants will be told what they need to do and how to do it when they apply.

    Start the application, and once completed, send it off. It will take around three weeks to get a decision, although you can apply to get a decision faster than this.

    Other Ways Pharmacists can Work In The Uk Other Than the Health And Care Visa Route

    The Skilled Worker visa is the primary visa option for pharmacists to enter the UK; however, Graduate Visa options may also be applicable if the applicant has only recently graduated from a recognised university.

    The following are the visa options available for international applicants to apply to work in the UK as pharmacists:

    • Skilled Worker Visas.
    • UK Graduate Visas.
    • Government Authorised Exchange Visas.
    • Youth Mobility Scheme Visas.

    How IAS Can Help You

    Whether you are a business looking to hire a newly qualified pharmacist or a pharmacy business seeking qualified pharmacists from overseas, obtaining the staff you want from overseas can be tricky. However, the Health and Care visa is one of the fastest to obtain, and there has been a lot of previous success in businesses hiring through this visa.

    While the Skilled Worker visa may not suit newly qualified pharmacist applicants, an immigration lawyer can help you ensure businesses have the right licence type to support recently qualified pharmacists looking for work in the UK.

    Speak to one of our legal teams at IAS and get the help that you need to ensure the efficient hiring of the right candidate with proven experience. Call us today at +44 (0)333 305 9375 and get started hiring the qualified pharmacists your business needs!

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at our Lagos office, all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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