Health and Care Worker Visa
The Health and Care Worker Visa is open to qualified doctors, nurses and allied health professionals of all nationalities (except British and Irish) who have been trained to a recognised standard.
The Health and Care Worker Visa can lead to settlement in the UK after 5 years and applicants can be joined by dependent partners and children.
Requirements for a Health and Care Worker Visa
In order to qualify for a Health and Care Worker Visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
- You are aged 18 or over;
- You are a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional;
- You work or will work in an eligible health or social care job, which falls within the list of approved occupation codes;
- You work or will work for a UK health and care sector employer that has been approved by the Home Office;
- You have a valid ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you have been offered;
- You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0);
- You will be paid the minimum salary or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work you will be doing, whichever is higher;
- You have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds;
- You have provided a criminal record certificate if working with vulnerable people; and
- You have provided a valid TB certificate, if from a listed country.
The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances. You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
Who is eligible for the Health and Care visa?
Qualified doctors, nurses, health professionals and adult social care professionals are eligible to apply for the Health and Care visa.
It is open to individuals applying under the skilled worker route for entry clearance or leave to remain who and will be taking up a job offer in one of the occupations specified within a prescribed list of Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes.
The list of eligible professions is subject to change, and at present includes the following:
This is an exhaustive list and roles which are within the same sector but fall under different codes would not be eligible for the Health and Care Visa: However, some roles may still be eligible within the general Skilled Worker category.
The list of eligible professions is subject to change, and at present includes the following:
|SOC code||Eligible job roles|
|1181||Health services and public health managers and directors|
|1242||Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors|
|2112||Biological scientists and biochemists|
|2219||Health professionals not elsewhere classified eg audiologists and occupational health advisers|
|2223||Speech and language therapists|
|2229||Therapy professionals not elsewhere classified eg osteopaths and psychotherapists|
|3218||Medical and dental technicians|
|3219||Health associate professionals not elsewhere classified|
|6141||Nursing auxiliaries and assistants|
|6145||Care workers & home carers|
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Requirement
In order to obtain a Health and Care Worker Visa, you must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job you are planning to do. This is an electronic record rather than a physical document.
Your Certificate of Sponsorship will need to have been issued by an employer that is authorised by the Home Office to sponsor the job in question under the Health and Care Worker route.
The typical employer will be the NHS, an organisation providing medical services to the NHS, or an organisation providing adult social care. Where an employer is not currently approved they can apply for a Sponsor Licence if they are eligible.
Your employer will be required to include a brief explanation in the Certificate of Sponsorship setting out how the employee meets the Health and Care Visa eligibility requirement. Where an employer is an organisation that provides services commissioned by the NHS, evidence of any contractual arrangements with the NHS may be required to be disclosed.
Your Certificate of Sponsorship must have been issued not more than 3 months before the date of your Health and Care Worker visa application.
Your Certificate of Sponsorship must include certain mandatory information, including:
- details of your name, job and salary;
- a start date which is no more than 3 months after the date your Health and Care Worker visa application;
- confirmation that the Certificate of Sponsorship has not been used in a previous application which was either granted or refused and has not been withdrawn by the sponsor or cancelled by the Home Office;
English Language Requirement
In order to qualify for a Health and Care Worker visa, you will need to demonstrate English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference scale (CEFR) for Languages in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) to at least level B1 (intermediate).
Prospective employees applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as a Health and Care Worker will satisfy the English language requirement if they:
- Are a national of a majority English-speaking country;
- Have passed a Secure English Language Test from an approved provider;
- Have been awarded a degree-level academic qualification taught in English;
- Obtained a GCSE/A Level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Highers or Advanced Higher in English while at school in the UK; or
- Have already shown they met the requirement, of level B1, in a previous successful application for entry clearance or permission to stay.
If you are being sponsored to work as a doctor, dentist, nurse or midwife you do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you have already passed an English language assessment accepted by the relevant professional regulatory body.
Salary Threshold Requirement
Employers seeking to recruit under the Health and Care Worker route must (subject to circumstances where less may be paid as set out below) pay their Health and Care Workers a salary of at least £20,480 per year unless the ‘going rate’ for the job is higher than this.
Each occupation code has its own annual ‘going rate’. For roles within the NHS there are various pay bands which vary according to whether they are in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
There is a separate system for those working as biochemists or as biological or physical scientists which usually requires a minimum salary of £25,600 per year unless the ‘going rate’ for your job is higher than this.
You may be paid less than the ‘going rate’ in the following circumstances:
- You can be paid at 80% of the usual going rate if your job is on a shortage occupation list.
- You can be paid at 70% of the usual going rate if you are under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training towards a recognised UK qualification or registered status.
- You can be paid at 80% of the usual going rate if you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to your job as long as you will still earn at least £20,480 a year.
- You can be paid at 90% of the usual going rate if you have a non-STEM PhD level qualification as long as you will still earn your salary must be at least £23,040.
- You can be paid 70% of your usual going rate if you will be working in a postdoctoral position.
What is a ‘job in a shortage occupation’?
The Home Office maintains a list of skilled roles where employers find it difficult to secure adequate numbers of workers with the required skills to fill their vacancies. A separate list of shortage occupations for healthcare and education is set out on the Home Office website, which includes all medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, psychologists, speech and language therapists, medical radiographers, paramedics and social workers among others. As explained above, if you have a job offer for a job on the shortage occupation list, the salary threshold requirement will be reduced.
Financial Maintenance Requirement
Subject to the exemptions below, you will need to have cash funds of at least £1,270 available to show that you can support yourself in the UK.
You will need to have held the money for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the date of your Health and Care Worker Visa application.
If you are applying for permission to stay and have been in the UK with permission for 12 months or more at the date of application, you will meet the financial requirement and will not need to show funds.
You will also be exempt if your employer can cover your costs during your first month in the UK in an amount of at least £1,270, if necessary. Your sponsor will need to confirm this on your Certificate of Sponsorship by completing the ‘Sponsor certifies maintenance’ section.
Criminal Record Certificate Requirement
If you are applying from outside the UK you will need to provide a criminal record certificate, unless your job is one of the following occupation codes: biological scientists and biochemists (2112) or physical scientist (2113).
- If you are under 28 years old and you have lived in more than one country you will need to provide a criminal record certificate for any country in which you have stayed for a total of 12 months or more since you turned 18.
- If you are over 28 years old you will need to provide a criminal record certificate for any country you have stayed in over the last 10 years.
Switching into the Health and Care Worker Visa Route
If you currently have to leave to remain in another immigration category, you may extend your stay by switching into the Health and Care Worker route unless you have, or were last granted, permission as a Visitor, Short-term student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household, are on Immigration Bailor have leave to remain in the UK outside of the Immigration Rules.
Duration of a Health and Care Worker Visa
If your application for a Health and Care Worker Visa is approved you will be granted entry clearance or permission to stay for a period ending 14 days after the end date of your Certificate of Sponsorship (which may be up to a maximum of 5 years after the start date of your Certificate of Sponsorship). Your certificate of sponsorship will state for how long your employer is sponsoring you.
You can usually apply to extend your Health and Care Worker visa if you still meet the salary requirements and :
- You have the same job as when you were previously were given permission to enter or stay in the UK; or
- Your job is in the same occupation code as when you were previously were given permission to enter or stay in the UK; or
- You are working for the same employer who issued your current certificate of sponsorship.
Settlement as a Health and Care Worker
In order to qualify for Settlement as a Health and Care Worker, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
- You have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK;
- The 5-year continuous period consisted of time with permission on any of, or any combination of, the following routes: Health and Care Worker, Global talent, Innovator, Tier 2 Minister of Religion, Tier 2 Sportsperson, Representative of an Overseas Business or as a Tier 1 Migrant (other than as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant);
- You have not been outside for more than 180 days during each year of the 5-year continuous period;
- You have passed the Life in the UK test (unless aged 65 or over);
- Your sponsor is still a Home Office approved sponsor;
- Your sponsor still requires you to work for them for the foreseeable future;
- You are being and will be paid for the foreseeable future, at least the general salary threshold or the going rate requirement, whichever is higher.
Exemption from Immigration Health Surcharge
Health and Care Worker visa applicants and their dependents are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Charge.
Dependants of Health and Care Workers
Health and Care Workers may be joined or accompanied by a dependent partner over the age of 18 and/or a dependent child under the age of 18.
The Health and Care Worker visa fee reduction applies to partners and children applying as dependants of Health and Care Visa applicants as does the exemption from Immigration Health Charge.
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