What is the Health and Care Worker visa?

The Health and Care Worker visa is for medical professionals and adult social care workers who want to travel to the UK to work with the NHS, an NHS supplier, or in adult social care. 

Nurses, doctors, and other health professionals can be eligible for the Health and Care Worker visa—provided that they’re applying for an eligible health or social care job from an approved employer. 

What are the Health and Care Worker visa requirements?

Health and Social Care visa job requirements

Applicants need to know their job’s occupation code to find out if it’s an eligible job for the Health and Care Worker visa route. 

Here are some examples:

  • 1181: health services and public health managers and directors
  • 1242: residential, day, and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
  • 2112: biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113: physical scientists
  • 2211: medical practitioners
  • 2212: psychologists
  • 2213: pharmacists
  • 2214: ophthalmic opticians
  • 2215: dental practitioners
  • 2217: medical radiographers
  • 2218: podiatrists
  • 2219: health professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as audiologists and occupational health advisers
  • 2221: physiotherapists
  • 2222: occupational therapists
  • 2223: speech and language therapists
  • 2229: therapy professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as osteopaths and psychotherapists
  • 2231: nurses
  • 2232: midwives
  • 2442: social workers
  • 3111: laboratory technicians
  • 3213: paramedics
  • 3216: dispensing opticians
  • 3217: pharmaceutical technicians
  • 3218: medical and dental technicians
  • 3219: health associate professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 6141: nursing auxiliaries and assistants
  • 6143: dental nurses
  • 6145: care workers and home carers
  • 6146: senior care workers

In order to qualify for the Health and Care Worker visa, applicants must have a job offer from an employer approved by the Home Office. It can be the NHS, an organization providing medical services to the NHS, or an organization providing adult social care.

Health Care Worker certification of sponsorship requirements

Employers must be licensed to act as sponsors because applicants for the Health and Care Worker visa will need a certificate of sponsorship to come to the UK. The applicant’s employer is the one in charge of issuing the applicant’s certificate of sponsorship. 

The certificate of sponsorship is an electronic record with information about the applicant’s sponsorship. The certificate must have a valid reference number and the employer’s name and sponsor license number in order to be considered legitimate.

Plus, it must have been issued less than 3 months before the date of application. The certificate of sponsorship expires after 3 months.

Health and Social Care visa salary requirements

They must be paid the minimum salary or the going rate for the job they’ll be doing in the UK. The salary requirement is at least £20,480 unless the going rate for the job they’ll be doing in the UK is higher. Each job’s occupation code has its own annual going rate to serve as guidance.

Salary requirements may be different for some jobs. For example, the minimum salary requirement rises to £25,600 per year,  £10.10 per hour, or the going rate if the applicant is a biological scientist, physical scientist, biochemist, laboratory technician, dispensing optician, pharmaceutical technician, care worker, home carer, senior care worker, health services and public health manager and/or director, or residential, day and domiciliary care manager and/or proprietor.

Health and Social Care visa English language requirements

Applicants must be able to read, write, speak, and understand spoken English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

To prove their English level, applicants should take a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider, unless they have a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, or degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English (applicants need to apply through Ecctis to prove this).

Some applicants do not need to prove their English level. These applicants are:

  • Doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists who have passed an English Language assessment that is accepted by the relevant regulated professional body.
  • Professionals who are nationals of a majority-speaking-country, such as Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, or the United States of America. 

How long you can stay with a Health and Care Worker visa

Health and Care Worker visa holders can live and work in the UK for up to 5 years. However, if they change jobs within that period, they should apply to update their visa.

If they spend 5 years in the UK, they can apply to settle in the UK permanently. 

Conditions of the Health and Care Worker visa

What you can and cannot do with a health and social care visa

Health and Care Worker visa holders can do the job they were sponsored to do, plus voluntary work and supplementary work if:

  • They get a job in the same occupation code as that in their visa (and the same skill level).
  • The job doesn’t demand more than 20 hours per week.
  • The job is on a shortage occupation list.

Health and Care Worker visa holders can study and bring their families to the UK (if they’re eligible). They can also travel abroad and go back to the UK as they wish. 

However, they can’t change jobs or employers without updating their visas, and they can’t have access to public funds (such as the State Pension). 

Health and Care Worker visa costs

The Health and Care Worker visa costs include:

  • Application fees: £247 per applicant if they are going to stay in the UK for less than 3 years, or £479 per applicant if they are going to stay in the UK for more than 3 years. 
  • Personal savings: Applicants must have at least £1,270 in a bank account for 28 days in a row. This is to show that they can support themselves when they arrive in the UK. They could be exempt from doing this if their sponsor is covering their costs during their first month in the UK, or if they’ve already been in the UK with a valid visa for 12 months. 

How to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa

To apply for a Health and Care Worker visa, the healthcare professional or social care worker must apply for a Skilled Worker visa online. They will be able to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa during the application for the Skilled Worker visa.

By that time, they must already have their certificate of sponsorship issued less than 3 months from the date of application. 

As part of the application, applicants must prove their identity. In some cases, they will be able to scan their identity documents directly with the UK Immigration: ID Check app. In other cases, they will be required to attend a visa center application (perhaps in another state or country) to provide biometric information, such as fingerprints and photographs.

Required documents to apply for UK Health and Care Worker visa

  • Passport or other documents that serve to prove the applicant’s identity and nationality.
  • Certificate of sponsorship.
  • Job’s occupation code and title.
  • Annual salary.
  • Proof of English knowledge. 
  • Proof of personal savings (for example, through a bank statement).
  • UK PhD certificate, or unique Ecctis reference number if the applicant obtained a qualification abroad (Ecctis certifies that the applicant’s qualification is valid). 
  • Tuberculosis test results if the applicant is a national of certain countries.
  • Criminal record certificate (unless the applicant is a biochemist, biological scientist, or physical scientist, or if they are applying from inside the UK). 

How to apply for a Health and Care Worker visa if you have a family

The Health and Care Worker visa applicant’s partner and children can apply to stay in the UK as “dependants”. 

A partner is:

  • Someone with whom the applicant has a marriage or civil partnership recognized in the UK.
  • Someone with whom the applicant has lived for the last 2 years.

All children under 18 years old, including those who were born in the UK, are eligible for the visa. Children over 16 years old are eligible as long as they don’t have their own partner and/or children, and if they still live with the applicant and depend financially on him/her.

Moreover, the family members must pay their own application fees and show that they have money to support themselves in the UK. 

They will need:

  • £285 for the partner.
  • £315 for one child.
  • £200 for each additional child.

They should also present the main applicant’s application number —called Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN)— to apply as dependants.

How to extend this Health and Care Worker visa

The Health and Care Worker visa should be extended before it expires. To do so, Health and Care Worker visaholders must apply online for a Skilled Worked visa. The Health and Care Worker visa will be included there.

The Health and Care Worker visa can only be renewed if, at the time of application to extend the visa, the applicant has the same job with the same occupation code, skill level, and employer who sponsored them to do that job in the first place. If that’s not the case, the individual must apply to update their visa, not to extend it.

In any case, the Health and Care Worker visa holder must still meet the rest of the requirements, such as the salary requirements, to keep qualifying for this visa.

How to switch to this Health and Care Worker visa

Healthcare professionals and adult social care workers cannot switch to this visa from the following visas:

  • Visit visa.
  • Short-term Student visa.
  • Parent of a Child Student visa.
  • Seasonal Worker visa.
  • Domestic Worker in a Private Household visa.
  • Any permission to stay in the UK outside immigration rules (such as on compassionate grounds) or if the applicant is on immigration bail.

However, they could be able to switch to this visa from other types of visas if they meet the requirements and apply for this visa before their current visa expires.

Health and Care visa processing time

Applicants can expect to receive a decision within 3 weeks unless they need to attend an interview, or if their supporting documents need to be verified. 

Frequently asked questions about UK Health and Care Worker visa

  1. Can I withdraw my application for this visa?
  • Yes, but you won’t get a refund if the application process has already started.
  1. Am I allowed to work while I’m updating my visa to change jobs?
  • You are not allowed to start your new job until you receive a decision on your visa update request.
  1. Are there any exemptions for the salary requirement?
  • Students, recent graduates, and young people in professional training can be paid less than  £25,600 but not less than £10.10 per hour if they’re under 26 years old. The same goes for qualified STEM professionals (if their qualification is relevant for their job) and professionals with a postdoctoral position in a scientific role. 
  1. Can I have two jobs with this visa?
  • If your second job will take more than 20 hours a week, or if it’s in a different occupation code, you must obtain sponsorship from your second employer and update your visa accordingly. 
  1. I don’t know my job’s occupation code, where can I find it?
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