Health and Care visa updates January 2024
On Monday 4 December 2023, the Prime Minister and Home Secretary announced the plan to cut net migration which together with the package to restrict student dependants, is expected to reduce the numbers by around 300,000. We summarised the plan in our blog article on 4th December 2023. There are a number of updates for Health and care sponsor employers and Health and Care visa in general.
Changes to Health and Care visa announced in December 2023
The biggest change for Health and Care visa that is due to be introduced in early 2024 is stopping overseas care workers from bringing dependants. This change impacts on care workers (SOC code 6145) and senior care workers (SOC code 6146). We outline this change in more detail further below.
Another change is requiring social care firms in England who wish to sponsor care worker visas to be providing services regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Until present there were a few exemptions from CQC requirement but this will no longer apply.
No changes to minimum salary threshold for Health and Care visa
Fortunately, those coming on the Health and Social Care Visa route will be exempt from the new £38,700 salary threshold applied to skilled workers, to continue to bring the healthcare workers that care sector and NHS need. Home Office is also exempting education workers on national pay-scale occupations.
Changes to Health and Care visa dependants
Care workers (SOC code 6145) and senior care workers (SOC code 6146) already in the route will be able to remain with their dependants, including extending, changing employer (within these SOC codes) and settlement. Home Office intends to bring this into effect as soon as possible in early 2024.
Where a care worker or senior care worker is in the route before the Immigration Rules change, but has not yet brought dependants, they will be allowed to bring dependants during their sponsorship (on this visa).
Individuals who are in the UK on any other route, including where that route permits dependants, who switch into the care visa as a care worker or senior care worker after this date, will not be able to stay with (or bring over) dependants.
Mandatory requirement for sponsors to be registered with Care Quality Commission (CQC)
Care providers who were sponsoring workers in exclusively non-regulated activities (and therefore not required to be registered with the CQC) before the rules change should be able to continue to sponsor these workers, including for extensions to their visa on those terms, but not hire new ones.
Following the recent announcement from Home Office, social care firms in England who wish to sponsor care worker visas will need to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).