Immigration rules to ease for care home sector
There are some good changes coming soon to alleviate the staff shortages in the UK care sector. From about January/February 2022, for at least twelve months care workers, care assistants and home care workers will be added to the Shortage Occupation list and be eligible for the Health and Care Visa visa scheme. These new changes allow for less senior care staff to be employed on Skilled Worker visas and also make employing care workers on skilled worker visa much cheaper and faster, benefiting from the Health and Care visa lower fees, no NHS Surcharge and quicker visa processing time. The scheme is to last for at least 12 months initially, after which time the Home Office will review it.
Health and Care visa advantages
Health and Care Visa is a special category visa in the Skilled Worker visa route that has several advantages for the applicant when compared to regular visas. The Visa offers 50% visa application fee reduction, exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge and a speedier decision on visa application. The changes have been introduced as a recognition of the importance of the healthcare sector and difficulties with recruitment faced by the care homes.
Care jobs to be added to the shortage list
A number of care jobs will be added to the Shortage Occupation List. SOC Code 6145 will be brought into scope of this visa change. According to ONS, this includes the job titles: Care Assistant, Care Worker, Carer, Home Care Assistant, Home Carer and Support Worker (Nursing Home). By being added to the Shortage Occupation list also means that the minimum salary may go down to £20,480 depending also on the rate for the specific job role.
|6145 Care workers and home carers||• Care assistant|
• Care worker
• Home care assistant
• Home carer
• Support worker (nursing home)
When the scheme for care workers starts
Starting from early next year (the exact date has not been announced as of yet), care workers, care assistants and home care workers will, for twelve months, enjoy the same privileges as health care workers.
What care homes should do now to prepare
Of course, to take advantage of the new scheme employers will have to be registered sponsors – they will need to have the sponsor licence allowing them to employ workers on skilled worker visa. For those who do not yet have a sponsor licence, it is good to arrange one as soon as possible. You can find more information on our website here: how to apply for the sponsor licence.
Home Office also announced that they are planning a series of events to help prospective sponsors familiarize themselves with the sponsorship regime, its requirements and the application process.
Eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
Crucial provision is that the applicants (Care workers and carers recruited to the UK) will be able to bring their dependents, spouse and children under 18, with the Health and Care visa offering a pathway to settlement for those Care staff who remain employed in the UK and wish to remain in the UK.