The current Government fixation with immigration means that many in the Health and Care sector are concerned about the impact of constantly changing policies on their ability to fill vacancies in core positions for their businesses.  The sector has always been particularly reliant on migrant workers to complete workforces, but the combined effects of Brexit and the pandemic has meant there is an ongoing staffing crisis within the sector.

The Health and Care Worker Visa

The Health and Care Worker (“HCW”) Visa falls under the Skilled Worker visa category and was introduced to relieve this crisis.  It has become a common route for many providers who can’t find UK workers to apply for a Sponsor Licence to enable them to recruit overseas staff using a HCW Visa.  The HCW Visa is the same as for other skilled workers with certain criteria on who may apply for it.  The criteria are that the applicant must meet are:

  • be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional;
  • work in an eligible health or social care role;
  • work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office;
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from the employer with information about the role they have been offered in the UK;
  • be paid a minimum salary – the level will depend on the type of work they do; and
  • the general criteria for admission to the UK.

Assuming a provider is approved by the Home Office and the employee meets the above criteria, obtaining a HCW Visa will be a successful process.

How can being a Sponsoring Employer and using HCW Visas help?

Having a sponsor licence and being able to recruit staff using a HCW Visa can provide an easier and cost-effective route to fill vacancies.  Care workers, home carers and senior care workers are currently on the shortage occupation list, deemed to be in short supply within the UK.  Using visa routes to fill those vacancies with migrant workers is an obvious solution for businesses that are struggling to otherwise complete their workforce.

Recent Proposed Changes to Immigration Policy

The Government recently announced it was raising the general salary threshold from £26,200 a year to £38,700 a year for skilled worker visas, leaving many employers and employees alike concerned about their future.  The impact will be felt particularly in sectors where average salaries are lower, and will not meet the thresholds set, defeating the very purpose for which the Visa systems were introduced. 

Currently the HCW Visa is exempt from the minimum salary threshold increase. However, there are also plans to scrap the shortage occupation list and replace it with a slimmed down ‘immigration salary list’ which would maintain the threshold discounts and it is hoped the same exempt roles for care workers, home carers and senior care workers will be included.

Care worker and Senior care workers will also not to be allowed to sponsor dependants from Spring 2024.

How can Druces help?

We can assist employers with obtaining sponsor licences, the entire visa application process and monitoring the changes to the rules and their effects.  This will enable a provider to apply for a sponsor licence, and support staff to apply for HCW Visas once that process has been successful.

If you believe becoming a sponsoring employer would assist your business, or if you would like to discuss options, or if you already have a sponsor licence and would like to discuss our ongoing assistance to sponsor licence holders, please contact Druces’ Head of Immigration and Employment, Phillip Vallon, on or 020 7216 5568.

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