The Government has recently announced that overseas national care workers will be able to get Skilled Worker visas to work in the UK from 15 February 2022.

Pre-pandemic, 16% of the adult social care workforce were foreign nationals and almost 40% of care home nurses trained abroad. However, until now, only medical professionals and senior care workers have been able to apply for a Health and Care Worker visa. This visa is part of the Skilled Worker route but has the advantage of fast track processing, a 50% reduction in visa fees and exemption from the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge.

Previously, regular care workers were not considered to be sufficiently skilled to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa. Now, in a concession designed to help deal with the chronic shortage of staff in the care sector, care workers and home carers classified under SOC code 6145 (including care assistants, home care assistants and support workers in nursing homes) will be able to apply for a Health and Care Worker visa.

Such care workers are now classified as working in a Shortage Occupation and can therefore qualify for the visa as long as they earn at least £20,480 a year and £10.10 an hour. As part of their application these workers must also provide a criminal record certificate.

This change only applies to companies employing care workers as private households and individuals (other than sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business) cannot sponsor Skilled Worker applicants. Any company wishing to sponsor such workers will need a sponsor licence.

The Government is also keen to emphasise that this concession is only temporary to “alleviate the pressures on the health and social care system as a result of COVID-19”. These care workers will therefore only be able to apply for a Health and Care Worker visa for 12 months and the position will then be reviewed in February 2023.

If you need further advice in this area or you are a company without a sponsor licence wishing to take advantage of this route for care workers then please contact the Immigration team for advice on how to apply for a sponsor licence.