The UK Health and Care Worker Visa offers a number of distinct benefits for migrants in health and care professions who wish to come to the UK to work.
What is the Health and Care Worker Visa?
The Health and Care Worker Visa provides a fast track for foreign nationals with medical and care skills to come to the UK to work in a suitable role with the NHS, an NHS provider or in the adult care sector , for example working as senior carers. Successful applicants can live and work in the UK for a period of five years and extend their visa as many times as they wish. After five years, migrant workers on a health and welfare visa will also have the option to settle in the UK (also known as indefinite leave to remain). There are considerable benefits of permanent residency, including the ability to change employers and apply for benefits, and there is no need to apply for additional visas.
What are the differences between the Health and Welfare Visa and the Skilled Worker Visa?
The Health and Care Worker Visa is for medical professionals and those in eligible health and care professions. The skilled worker visa is for other professions and jobs outside of the health and care sector.
Additionally, there are several advantages of a Health and Care Worker visa over a Skilled Worker visa, as follows:
- The Health and Care Visa is fast-tracked by UKVI, meaning applications are handled as a priority and processed within three weeks of the applicant providing their biometric information. This compares to other work visas which can take anywhere from eight to twenty weeks to process.
- The application fee for a health and care visa is much lower than for a skilled worker visa: £464 compared to £1,220 if applying for more than 3 years
- There is no payment of the immigration health surcharge for the health and welfare visa. This is normally £624 for each year of stay.
Who is the Health and Care Worker Visa for?
The UK Health and Care Worker Visa is available to the following qualified doctors, nurses, health workers and adult social care professionals in one of the following occupations (note that the four-digit number is the standard occupation code – SOC):
- 1181: managers and directors of health services and public health
- 1242: managers and owners of residential, daytime and domiciliary facilities
- 2112: Biological scientists and biochemists
- 2113: physical scientists
- 2211: doctors
- 2212: psychologists
- 2213: pharmacists
- 2214: ophthalmic opticians
- 2215: dentists
- 2217: medical radiographers
- 2218: podiatrists
2219: healthcare professionals “not elsewhere classified”, such as audiologists and occupational health consultants
- 2221: physiotherapists
- 2222: occupational therapists
- 2223: Speech and language therapists
- 2229: therapeutic professionals “not elsewhere classified”, such as osteopaths and psychotherapists
- 2231: nurses
- 2232: midwives
- 2442: social workers
- 3111: laboratory technicians
- 3213: paramedics
- 3216: dispensing of opticians
- 3217: pharmacy technicians
- 3218: doctors and dental technicians
- 3219: health workers not elsewhere classified
- 6141: auxiliaries and nursing assistants
- 6143: dental nurses
- 6146: healthcare workers for the elderly
Eligibility for the Health and Care Worker Visa
There are several eligibility requirements that must be met when applying for a health and care worker visa in the UK. Specifically you must:
Have a job offer and Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a UK National Health Service employer, an approved organization providing medical services to the National Health Service (for example a laboratory) or an organization that provides social assistance to adults.
- Receive a minimum wage
- Meet English language requirements
- Have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK
Job offer requirements
You must have an offer for a role with one of the occupation codes above. If you are unsure of the occupation code of the job you have been offered, you can use the ONS1 occupation checker tool. Alternatively, check with your employer, who will be able to provide this information.
Your job offer must come from one of the following:
- The National Health Service
- an organization that provides medical services to the National Health Service
- An organization that provides social care to adults
Your employer (sponsor) must be authorized to employ foreign workers on health and welfare visas. A full list of the types of organizations you can work for is available on the Home Office website2.
Receive a minimum wage
The minimum salary will depend on the type of work you do. Typically, you will need a salary of at least £25,600 per year or £10.10 per hour, whichever is higher. The rules state that if the “current rate”3 is higher than one of these figures, you will have to be paid at least the current rate. The going rate is set by the government and reflects the salary (or hourly rate) they say is generally paid within each profession. Therefore, the going rate varies greatly depending on your profession.)
In some cases, you can still apply for a health and welfare visa if your salary is less than the above amounts. The rules state that you can be paid between 70% and 90% of the going rate for your work if you receive at least £20,480 a year and one of the following applies:
- you have a job offer for a role in a shortage occupation4
- you are under 26 years old, you are a student or recent graduate or you are in professional training
- you have a doctoral qualification in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) relevant to the job you have been offered
- you have a postdoctoral position in a scientific role
Meet English language requirements
To apply for a Health and Care Worker visa, you must meet the English language requirements, or:
- Passing an approved language test to read, write, speak and understand English at least at level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
- have a GCSE, A level, Scottish national qualification at level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, or;
- possession of a university-level academic qualification taught in English.
- come from an exempt country.
- Proof of savings
You will also need to demonstrate that you have enough money to support yourself in the UK (£1,270 held in the bank for 28 days). This will not be required if you have already been in the country for a year or more on a valid visa. If you do not have sufficient support funds, you can choose to ask your employer to provide a letter of support, which the Home Office will also accept.
How to apply for a health and care worker visa
The process of applying for a skilled worker visa from outside the UK is completed online on the Home Office website5. You will be able to complete and submit your application once you receive the job offer, certificate of sponsorship, and supporting information listed below. If necessary, you can complete part of the application and save your progress, allowing you to complete the process later.
The application phases are as follows:
- Check your eligibility for a Health and Care Worker visa
- Secure a job offer from an authorized sponsor in the UK
- Receive your certificate of sponsorship from your UK employer
- Prepare the necessary documents to prove your eligibility for a health and care worker visa
- Fill out the online application form6
- Pay the registration fee, biometric fee and health surcharge (see below).
- Upload all documents necessary to support your request.
- Schedule a biometric appointment to have your fingerprints taken and a photo taken if necessary. You will be told how to prove your identity and provide your biometric data (e.g. fingerprints and photos) for your biometric residence permit (BRP). This can be done by having your fingerprints and photo taken at a visa application center in the country you are in or by using the Home Office mobile phone ‘Immigration to the UK: Identity Check’ app . The app allows you to scan your identity documents and upload them to the Home Office.
You can expect to receive a decision within 3 weeks of the date of your application if made outside the UK. If further information is required to support your application, you will be contacted by UKVI.
Documents required for UK health and care worker visa
Some of the information and documents you may need to provide to support your health and care worker visa application include:
- Your passport (with a blank page)
- The reference number of your sponsorship certificate
- Your job title and your annual salary
- The occupation code of your job
- Your employer’s name and sponsor’s license number (as shown on your certificate of sponsorship)
- Evidence of sufficient personal savings to support yourself
- Proof of your relationship with your spouse/partner and children (e.g. marriage and birth certificates)
Please provide a criminal record certificate if you are applying from outside the UK, unless your job falls under one of the following occupation codes:
- biological scientists and biochemists (2112)
- physical scientists (2113)
- Proof of your knowledge of the English language
- Tuberculosis test results (if you are from a country where it is required)
- UK PhD certificate or Ecctis reference if your PhD is not from the UK
Visa extension for health and care workers
You will be able to further extend your Health and Care Worker visa as long as you still meet the eligibility criteria; this means you have to:
- you still have the same job as when you were granted previous permission to enter or stay in the UK – this must be in the same occupation code
- work for the employer who issued you your current certificate of sponsorship
- continue to meet salary requirements
Your partner or children will also be able to extend their visa. However, they will need to apply separately, at the same time as you, or at any time before your current visa expires.
Health and Care Workers Visa Dependent
As a holder of a Health and Care Worker visa, you will be able to bring your eligible dependents to join you in the UK; this includes your:
- Husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner: to be eligible you must be in a civil partnership or marriage or have been living in a relationship for at least 2 years
- Children under the age of 18
- Children over the age of 18 – if: living with you (unless at university or boarding school), unmarried and financially dependent on you
Health and care worker visa costs
The health and care worker visa costs are as follows:
- Application fee • For a visa of up to three years: £232 per person
- For a visa of more than three years: £464 per person
- Please note the application fee is the same whether you apply from inside or outside the UK.
- Biometric fee £19.20