The Health and Care visa is a subcategory of the Skilled Worker visa.
The Health and Care visa was first introduced to ensure that workers in key health and care roles, such as doctors, nurses, and senior care workers, could benefit from lower visa application fees. This unique fee reduction acknowledges the importance of these types of roles to UK society and the government’s commitment to ensuring that gaps in the industry can be filled from overseas more easily.
The immigration health surcharge itself was designed to help cover the cost of migrants using the NHS while living in the UK and is a mandatory fee for most visa applications.
However, it was controversial that health workers who were (more often than not) playing a critical part in supporting the NHS’s services had to pay exorbitant fees for the immigration health surcharge to obtain visas.
It is possible for a wide variety of overseas Health and Care workers to apply for the visa. This blog covers the eligibility criteria and fees, procedure, and processing times.
Visa application procedure
As mentioned above, the Health and Care visa is a type of Skilled Worker visa. Therefore, the process for applying is the same as for other skilled workers.
You need to register an online application form, be assigned a valid certificate of sponsorship from your employer, and ensure that you have evidence of meeting the English language requirement and Financial requirement (maintenance).
You may be sponsored for an “up to 3 year” visa, which costs £232, or “up to 5 year” visa, which costs £464.
Having submitted your online application and paid the correct application fee (depending on the length of sponsorship), you will need to upload scanned copies of your documents to the correct online portal and then book and attend a visa appointment to enrol biometric data (photo and fingerprints).
Your application will be transferred electronically to the Home Office and when granted, you will be able to start work under the new visa.
As a Health and Care applicant, your sponsor must confirm how you qualify for the Health and Care visa on your certificate of sponsorship. Failure to do so may impact your visa application.
How do I qualify?
Start with the Standard Occupational Code (SOC) you are being sponsored to work under: Every role for sponsorship must be matched to a 4-digit SOC code (job classification). The full list of codes can be found in the immigration rules (Appendix Skilled Occupations).
You can only qualify for the Health and Care visa if your job is in one of the following SOC codes (latest guidance came into force 29 January 2021):
- 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 not elsewhere classified
- 2221 – Physiotherapists
- 2222 – Occupational Therapists
- 2223 – Speech and Language Therapists
- 2229 – Therapy professionals not elsewhere classified
- 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
- 6146 – Senior care workers
As an individual, you must also meet additional criteria.
In some cases, registration with an acceptable regulatory body will suffice.
If you work as a Senior Carer working in a Care home, your employer must also be regulated to conduct care activities as outlined in the guidance. In England, this would normally be indicated by registration with the CQC.
Some examples of eligible applicants for the Health and Care visa:
- GDC registered dentists
- GMC registered doctors
- NMC registered nurses
- Those employed an NHS Foundation Trust or an organisation contracted to the NHS to provide regulated Healthcare activities.
- Care workers employed by appropriately regulated organisations
The Health and Care visa processing time is 3 weeks, under the standard service. You can apply no more than 3 months before the date you are due to start work.
Someone applying for a Health and Care visa can still apply using the (5 days) priority service or (24 hours) super priority service, which would further expedite the decision at an additional cost.
What about my dependents?
Dependents making visa applications at the same time, or applying to join you later, can also benefit from the reduced fee and exemption from the immigration health surcharge, as the dependent of a Health and Care applicant.
Dependent visas can be applied for by spouses of the main applicant and unmarried partners and children below 18 years of age.
This guide provides a general overview of the Health and Care visa. At A Y & J Solicitors, we can help assess the detail of your application and support you to make a smooth and stress-free Health and Care visa application. We will assist you end-to-end to ensure your application is successful so that you can take up your role as a Health or Care worker in the UK.