When considering your next hire – whether it’s a doctor, nurse, or other health professional – the most important factor is finding the right person for the job. That may mean looking outside your city, region, or country. The process of care worker visa sponsorship may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little knowledge, you can be more prepared to help your next employee through the care worker visa application process.
Employee eligibility for a Health and Care Worker visa
To be eligible for a healthcare worker visa, your employee must be a health care professional in a qualifying career and must be competent in English.
In addition, they will have to prove certain financial requirements, namely that you will be paying them a certain minimum amount and that they will be able to support themselves when they arrive in the UK.
Qualifying careers include, but are not limited to, doctors, nurses, psychologists, pharmacists, dentists, occupational therapists, social workers, paramedics, and medical scientists. In addition, they must be currently employed in that visa-eligible profession.
Knowledge of the English language
English competency includes being able to speak, understand, read, and write English. Often your employee will have to prove their knowledge of English by passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) administered by an approved provider.
Some exceptions allow an employee to avoid taking the SELT, such as:
- Being a national of certain English-speaking countries
- Having a degree (or equivalent level academic qualification) that was taught in English
- Being a doctor, nurse, dentist, or other health professional who has previously passed an English assessment accepted by their profession’s regulatory body
As part of the UK visa application process, your employee will have to show that you will pay them a certain minimum salary. The minimum must be the highest of either £25,600 per year, £10.10 per hour, or the “going rate” for the job the employee will be doing.
In addition, they will need to prove they have a minimum amount of money available to support themself while in the UK. For just your employee, the amount is £1,270, but if they are bringing along dependents, they will need to have an additional amount in savings for each person.
Another option is for you, as the employer, to certify the maintenance of the employee(s) you’re sponsoring. Essentially, this means you are promising to maintain and accommodate them for the first month that they are in the UK, if needed. In this case, proof of savings is not necessary.
How to sponsor a Health and Care Workers visa application
As of January 2022, new rules were announced that allow for care worker visa sponsorship so long as the employer first seeks approval from the Home Office. To sponsor your employee’s care worker visa application, in addition to paying the employee the required minimum amount, you will need to hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship.
You can apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship from the Home Office for a particular job in your company using the sponsorship management system (SMS). They are typically approved in one working day.
Applying for a Health and Care Worker visa
Assuming your future employee is applying for their health care work visa from outside the UK, they must complete their application online. They will apply using essentially the same process as any other Skilled Worker visa.
Health and Care Worker visa supporting documentation
To complete their visa application, your employee will need the following documentation:
- Their passport or other document proving their identity and nationality
- The certificate of sponsorship that you obtained from the Home Office
- Appropriate proof of their knowledge of the English language
They will also need to have information regarding their job title, annual salary, occupation code, business name, and sponsor license number (which they can find on the certificate of sponsorship).
They may require additional documentation on a case-by-case basis, depending on the country they are from or the job they will be doing.
What Are the Health and Care Worker Visa Costs?
There are costs involved in obtaining a care worker visa that you or your employee should be ready to cover, including an application fee.
The application fee can be as high as £1,423. The actual amount varies based on several factors, such as:
- Whether they are applying from inside or outside the UK
- The length of intended stay
- Whether they are bringing family members
- Whether the job is on the shortage occupation list
What are the Health and Care visa processing times?
It will take about 3 weeks to get a decision back on a health care visa application. That is quite a bit faster than most other types of skilled worker visas. That time frame may even be shorter if they are applying from inside the UK.
Your employee can start the application up to 3 months prior to their start date to make sure that they receive their decision with plenty of time to move before starting work.
Health and Care visa FAQs
You and your future employee likely have additional questions beyond how to initially obtain their care worker visa, such as whether they can bring their family and how long they will be allowed to stay. Here is some additional information that can help them prepare for their move to the UK.
Can they bring their partner and children?
Your future employee can apply to have their family members join them in the UK, so long as they qualify as eligible dependents. Eligible dependents include:
- Partner, such as husband, wife, or unmarried partner
- Children under 18
- Children over 18 if they are already in the UK as your employee's dependent
For an unmarried partner to qualify, they must be able to prove a civil partnership or that they have lived together for 2 years or more at the time of the application.
Children over the age of 16 must:
- Live with the primary visa applicant, unless enrolled in boarding school or a full-time college or university program
- Not be married or have any children
- Be financially supported by the primary visa applicant
For children living with their parent, your employee will have to prove their residence with a driver’s license, bank statements or credit card bills, a letter from their college or university, or other similar documentation.
Can they extend their visa?
Your employee, and their family, if they are in the UK with them, can apply to have their visa extended so long as they are still employed by you in the same job and still meet the salary requirements.
It is critical that, during the time they are applying for a visa extension, they do not travel outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. If they leave those areas before their extension is granted, their application for an extension will be automatically withdrawn.
Can they switch to a new position in your company?
You can promote your employee or move them to another position after coming into the UK on a healthcare worker visa. In that case, they will have to update their visa unless all of the following are true:
- They are still with the same employer
- Their occupation code does not change
- They do not leave a position on the shortage occupation list for one that is not on the list
Can they begin working for you if another employer sponsored their original application?
A health and care worker who came into the UK sponsored by another employer can accept a new job with you. They will simply need to update their visa to show you as their new employer. It’s important to note that they can only work for you once you have issued a certificate of sponsorship, and they have received an updated visa. Sponsored employees cannot work for a new employer with a former employer’s details.
Additionally, the position you’re hiring for must have the same occupation code and meet the salary requirements.
Will they be allowed to stay long term?
After spending 5 years in the UK on a Health and Care Worker visa, they will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. In addition to having worked in the UK for 5 years, they will need documentation to prove that they meet certain salary requirements and that you continue to need them for the job.
It is simpler and faster than ever to help your future employees immigrate to the UK on a care worker visa. There is a need for these workers in the UK, and the laws were altered to reflect that fact. If you are looking to sponsor a doctor, nurse, or other health professional, hopefully, this guide will help make that process a little easier.
Looking to sponsor a healthcare worker's visa in the UK? Need some guidance? Localyze can help! Schedule a call today to learn more.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in July 2022. All information has been verified to be accurate and up-to-date as of March 2023.