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Health And Care Worker Visa (A Guide For Irish Employers In UK)

If you are an Irish-owned medical-related business operating in the UK then you could benefit significantly from the Health and Care Worker Visa, which is designed to fulfil a skills shortage in the UK.

For assistance with making Health and Care Worker Visa applications for potential new employees, get in touch with our immigration lawyers today on +353 061 518 025 or contact us via the live chat.

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    What Is The Health and Care Worker Visa: An Overview

    Introduced in 2020, the Health and Care Visa is for overseas medical professionals who wish to come to work in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), be employed by a NHS supplier or work in the adult social care industry.

    Launched following the Covid-19 pandemic, the visa is designed to make it easier for businesses/providers based in the UK to recruit health and care workers from overseas to address a shortage of appropriate skills in the UK.

    The Health and Care Visa has a number of similarities with the Skilled Worker Visa and permits holders to live and work in the UK. However, it is limited to those applicants who can demonstrate skills related to the medical and care professions.

    A major advantage for Irish companies operating in the UK is that the visa has reduced fees and there is no requirement to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge thus making it very attractive to experienced healthcare and social care staff from around the world.

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    Who Can I Hire On The Health and Care Worker Visa?

    Overview

    As an Irish business operating in the UK, you should be aware that the Health and Care Worker Visa has restrictions on who is eligible for the work permit.

    Potential employees must work in eligible roles with the country’s health and care sector and meet the following requirements:

    • Be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional
    • Have experience working in one of the eligible occupations
    • Workers must be able to read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages scale. However, this can be waived if the applicant is from a majority English-speaking country or has a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English.
    • Have a valid job offer from an employer operating in the UK who has been approved by the Home Office.
    • The employer must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship that provides information about the role offered
    • Roles must meet salary requirements appropriate for the work to be undertaken

    As part of your role as an employer, you will need to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) that details the role, salary and contract time for each worker. It is important the job you are offering as an employer is valid for the correct visa otherwise you could face legal consequences.

    List of Occupation Codes

    The offered role must be in one of the following occupation codes to qualify:

    • 1181: health services and public health managers and directors
    • 1242: residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
    • 2112: biological scientists and biochemists
    • 2113: physical scientists
    • 2211: medical practitioners
    • 2212: psychologists
    • 2213: pharmacists
    • 2214: ophthalmic opticians
    • 2215: dental practitioners
    • 2217: medical radiographers
    • 2218: podiatrists
    • 2219: health professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as audiologists and occupational health advisers
    • 2221: physiotherapists
    • 2222: occupational therapists
    • 2223: speech and language therapists
    • 2229: therapy professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as osteopaths and psychotherapists
    • 2231: nurses
    • 2232: midwives
    • 2442: social workers
    • 3111: laboratory technicians
    • 3213: paramedics
    • 3216: dispensing opticians
    • 3217: pharmaceutical technicians
    • 3218: medical and dental technicians
    • 3219: health associate professionals not elsewhere classified
    • 6141: nursing auxiliaries and assistants
    • 6143: dental nurses
    • 6145: care workers and home carers
    • 6146: senior care workers

    If you are an Irish business established in the UK and want to hire health and care workers, get help from our immigration team. Contact Us

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      What are the Salary Requirements for the Health and Care Visa?

      It is vital as an employer to ensure that you are paying the correct salary to employees on a Health and Care Visa.

      The salary may vary depending on the occupation and there are some jobs that can attract a different annual wage. For example, if the role is on the Shortage Occupation List or requires a Ph.D.

      If you are recruiting workers on the following occupation codes then you will need to ensure you are offering a salary that meets specific requirements:

      • 1181: health services and public health managers and directors
      • 1242: residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
      • 2112: biological scientists and biochemists
      • 2113: physical scientists
      • 3111: laboratory technicians
      • 3216: dispensing opticians
      • 3217: pharmaceutical technicians
      • 6145: care workers and home carers
      • 6146: senior care workers

      The Home Office provides a Going Rate Table that allows you to check that you are paying your workers the correct amount so they qualify for a Health and Care Visa.

      If you are unclear about whether you are paying the necessary salary to a worker or want advice on roles on the Shortage Occupation List or Skilled Worker Visas, then reach out to IAS for help and support to ensure you are fully compliant with UK immigration law.

      How Long is a Health and Care Worker Visa Valid For?

      Health and Care Visas are initially issued for up to five years as long as the holder continues to work in a qualifying role and meets the other requirements of the visa.

      It is possible to apply for an extension to the Health and Care Worker Visa, with the option to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) if your worker wishes to remain in the UK. ILR is seen as a key step towards full UK citizenship and becoming a British passport holder.

      Will My Employee Meet the Language Requirement for a Health and Care Worker Visa?

      Overview

      Usually, applicants for the Health and Care Visa will need to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language if they are applying for a UK visa for the first time.

      Any potential employees will need to show they can read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

      This can be done by passing an English language test via an approved provider or if the potential staff member already:

      • Has a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, gained at a UK school.
      • Has a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English.

      In some cases, employees from certain countries which are regarded as largely English-speaking do not need to demonstrate their English language skills to qualify.  If you are recruiting from the following countries this requirement is waived:

      List of Countries

      • Antigua and Barbuda
      • Australia
      • the Bahamas
      • Barbados
      • Belize
      • The British overseas territories
      • Canada
      • Dominica
      • Grenada
      • Guyana
      • Jamaica
      • Malta
      • New Zealand
      • St Kitts and Nevis
      • St Lucia
      • St Vincent and the Grenadines
      • Trinidad and Tobago
      • USA

      In addition, if the potential worker is a doctor, midwife or nurse then they will not need to provide evidence of their English language competency if they have already completed an English language assessment from their profession’s regulated body.

      Business Requirements In Order To Hire Health And Care Workers From Overseas

      Issuing Certificates of Sponsorship

      Irish-owned businesses with operations in the UK must ensure they follow all UK immigration laws when recruiting healthcare workers from overseas including carrying out Right to Work checks.

      As an employer, you must issue all Health and Care Visa workers with a Certificate of Sponsorship. This electronic record shows what role the holder will undertake while employed by your company and is a key part of the visa approval process. Each CoS costs £199 to issue.

      The certificate should contain essential information, such as the applicant’s full name, job description and salary. The start date given in the CoS must not exceed three months after their visa application date.

      An additional requirement when issuing CoS to healthcare workers is that it must include an explanation of how the employee meets the Health and Care Worker Visa requirements.

      If you are an organisation that provides medical services for the NHS then you will also need to include information about your contract with the NHS.

      Sponsor Licence Requirements

      To issue a Certificate of Sponsorship you must have a valid Sponsor Licence from the Home Office.

      To register for a UK Visa Sponsorship Licence you must apply for one from the Home Office so that you have access to the government’s Sponsorship Management System (SMS). You will then be able to issue certificates and maintain records of your workers from overseas.

      As part of the application for the licence, your business must assign a set role on the SMS to be responsible for the processes involved in being a sponsoring employer. You should choose at least two employees that will be able to be responsible for managing sponsorship and they can’t be shareholders or hold senior positions in the company.

      A fee is applicable when applying for the licence, the exact amount required will depend on the size and type of your company.

      It is important to understand the responsibilities of being a UK Sponsor Licence holder and the ongoing obligations of ensuring compliance.

      For help in applying for a Sponsorship Licence, you should reach out to IAS for support to avoid any delays in being able to sponsor healthcare workers.

      Navigate the Health and Care Worker Visa process with confidence. Seek our expert guidance and assistance today. Contact Us

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        Documents Needed for A Sponsorship Licence

        To apply for a Sponsor Licence you will need to demonstrate you fulfil the requirements and therefore you must submit the following:

        • Recent audited financial accounts
        • Up-to-date bank statements
        • Proof of insurance
        • VAT Registration Certificate
        • Evidence of HMRC compliance and registration, for example, PAYE records
        • Details of ownership of the business and associated property.

        A crucial part of the application is to showcase why you need a licence and provide details of the type of business the company will be conducting in the UK. Applicants may need to provide information such as operating hours, company staff structure, contact details and a list of current employees.

        How Long Does It Take to Process A Sponsor Licence?

        The processing time for a UK Sponsorship Licence can vary depending on a number of factors such as Home Office backlogs or the need to carry out a pre-licence compliance visit, but in most cases, a licence application can take around two months to be decided.

        If you wish to speed up the application then for an extra £500 for priority processing, the Home Office can review the application within ten working days.

        How Much Does a UK Sponsorship Licence Cost?

        The cost of a Sponsor Licence will depend on the size of your business in the UK and its role.

        At present a small business is charged £536 for a Sponsor Licence as long as they meet two of the following criteria:

        • Have an annual turnover of equal to or less than £10.2 million
        • Employ no more than 50 workers
        • Have a balance sheet of no more than £5.1 million

        If you are a larger company then you will need to pay £1,476 for a Sponsor Licence.

        Immigration Skills Charge

        As the Irish owner of a health or care business operating in the UK, you will need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge. This fee can be paid via the SMS and must be paid for each worker who is employed under the Health and Care Visa.

        This fee is £1,000 per sponsored worker per year for larger companies or £364 per year per smaller company.

        As there is a five-year limit to the time allowed to sponsor a worker the maximum payable will be £1,820 for smaller businesses and £5,000 for larger enterprises.

        The Immigration Skills Charge has to be paid within ten working days of issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship. If you fail to pay the charge then the healthcare worker’s visa will be rejected.

        Health and Care Worker Visa Employee Requirements

        There are a number of requirements that potential Health and Care Worker Visa employees must meet in order to work for a business operating in the UK.

        One of the most important conditions is that the job role offered to them is eligible as one of the qualifying professions.

        Holders of the Health and Care Worker UK Visa are able to do the following while living in the country:

        • Be employed in an eligible job
        • Undertake voluntary work
        • Study
        • Sponsor dependents such as children or partner to accompany them to the UK
        • Travel without restrictions
        • Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years

        However, there are some restrictions for Health and Care Visa holders such as not being able to access public funds while staying in the UK. If they decide to change employers then must also ensure their new role qualifies and their new employer is willing to sponsor them.

        Our immigration lawyers have helped hundreds of businesses. Reach out to our team for assistance today. Contact Us

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          Documents Needed for Health and Care Visa Workers

          Your potential staff member will need to submit a range of documents as part of their application and may need to contact you to provide some of the paperwork required for successful visa approval.

          Anyone applying for the Health and Care Visa will need to provide the following:

          • Certificate of Sponsorship reference number
          • Proof of English Language proficiency such as a Secure English Language Test (SELT) results or a certificate showing an academic qualification taught in English.
          • A valid passport
          • The occupation code for the role they will be doing while in the UK
          • Job title and annual salary details
          • Contact details for the employer and your  sponsor licence number
          • A clear tuberculosis test result (if applicable, as this depends on the home country of the applicant)
          • Evidence they have sufficient finances to support themselves
          • A clean criminal record is required for most healthcare-related professions.

          All of the documents should be in English or Welsh otherwise they will need to be translated and certified before submitting.

          Cost of a Health and Care Visa for an Employee

          As well as the costs required to be paid by the employer, the employee must also ensure they are able to pay the cost of applying for the Health and Care Visa.

          The fees are the same whether the applicant is already living in the UK or is applying from overseas. For a visa lasting three years, the cost is £284 and £551 for periods up to five years.

          As well as the application fee, workers will also need to show that they have access to at least £1,270 in their bank account to support themselves while living and working in the UK.

          Alternatively, it is possible for an employer to support the worker but the Certificate of Sponsorship must clearly show this and you will need to complete the sponsor-certified maintenance section on the SMS.

          Our Immigration Solicitors Can Help Your Business

          The Health and Care Visa is a relatively new visa category to help fill a key skills shortage in the UK. As an Irish business looking to recruit new workers to healthcare roles in the UK, it can be a challenge to understand the UK immigration process.

          Our lawyers are trained in all of the latest updates, including the Health and Care Visa, and are here to provide support throughout the recruitment process.

          In addition, IAS can help with your application for a Sponsor Licence to enable you to issue Certificates of Sponsorship, which is a necessary step for any UK-based employer looking to employ overseas workers.

          Our lawyers can fill in the application form on your behalf, offer compliance audits and help you gather all of your supporting documents needed.

          For more information about our services for Irish businesses, call us today on +353 061 518 025 or contact us via the live chat.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    If you are looking to come to the UK to work in the country’s healthcare industry then you do need to secure a job offer. There are a number of ways to find companies that are sponsoring overseas workers via the Internet, contacting recruitment agencies or general networking.

                    Existing Health and Care Visa holders are able to bring the following dependent family members:

                    • A spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, or legal spouse
                    • Any child under the age of 18
                    • If their child is over the age of 18 and they are currently in the UK as the applicant’s dependent

                    However, 2024 changes to the Health and Care Visa criteria mean new applicants, ie those not renewing or extending their visa, will no longer be able to bring dependents to the UK.

                    Health and Care Worker Visa holders do not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as it is waived for applicants. However, most other Worker Visa holders are required to pay the fee to access a range of NHS services. The current cost of the surcharge is £624 per year.

                    Dependents of Health and Care Worker visa holders are also able to access NHS services without charge.

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