Streamlined Health and Care Visa: Optimizing the Recruitment of Global Talent

The UK continues to refine its immigration policies, with the latest revisions targeting skilled overseas workers in healthcare. This comprehensive guide distills pivotal insights on the Health and Care Visa under the country’s points-based immigration system, taking effect from February 26, 2024.

Overview of Visa Provisions:

  • Effective March 11, 2024, foreign care workers (SOC 6145) and senior care workers (SOC 6146) will no longer be permitted to have dependents accompany them to the UK. Until any further revisions, existing immigration roles and policies remain applicable.
  • The general salary threshold for skilled workers will increase, with the minimum set at £23,200 for roles adhering to national pay scales, and £29,000 for all other applicable occupations.
  • The Health and Care Visa will have occupation-specific salary thresholds as reflected on the Immigration Salary List (ISL), with the minimum set at £23,200 or higher, depending on the role.
  • Holders of the Health and Care Visa are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), and there’s no cap on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship (COS).
  • The resident labor market test has been done away with – candidates must now score a total of 70 points to be eligible, based on a mix of fixed and tradeable characteristics such as job offer, appropriate skill level, and English language proficiency.
  • A dedicated support service from UK Visas and Immigration is available, providing streamlined assistance for individuals and their family member applications.

Eligibility and Points System:

To be eligible, overseas recruits should be qualified in a relevant healthcare profession and hold an offer for an approved job from a UK sponsor. Candidates must meet the specific salary threshold for their occupation, English language requirements, and accumulate 70 points reflecting job offer, skill level, salary and other criteria.

Characteristics like a job offer from an approved sponsor, job at the appropriate skill level, and English proficiency are mandatory, accounting for 50 of the required points. The remaining 20 points can be traded based on salary, working in a shortage occupation, holding a relevant PhD, or being a new entrant to the job market.

Application Timescale and Fees:

  • Applicants can initiate the visa process up to three months before their job start date in the UK.
  • Decision times are expedited, generally within three weeks, but can be faster for those attending appointments, whether in the UK or abroad.
  • The visa application cost ranges from £284 for stays up to three years, to £551 for longer periods. Migrants must have £1,270 as maintenance funds unless their sponsor certifies their support.

Residency and Citizenship:

A successful Health and Care Visa applicant is allowed to reside and work in the UK for up to five years, with the possibility of visa extension and eligibility for indefinite leave to remain after five years—given they meet all requirements, including continuous residence.

Practical Examples:

For illustration:

  1. Jorge, a medical radiographer from Portugal, receives 50 mandatory points for his skill level, job offer, and English language ability. His inclusion on the shortage occupation list grants him an additional 20 points, qualifying for the Health and Care Visa.
  2. Samuel, a lab technician from Spain, also acquires the mandatory 50 points through skill, job offer, and English language test. His PhD earns him the final 20 points needed, cementing his eligibility for the visa.

The new rules are designed to bolster the UK’s healthcare workforce with skilled professionals while providing an efficient and supportive application process.

For NHS employers and potential recruits, it’s paramount to familiarize yourselves with these updates and prepare accordingly to ensure compliance and a seamless transition.

For more detailed advice and the latest information, refer to the official guidelines on the GOV.UK website.

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