Health and Care Visa Scheme expanded to include care workers
On 24 January, the Home Office published Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules: HC 1019 to add care workers, care assistants and home care workers to the Shortage Occupation List and will become eligible for the Health and Care Visa for a minimum 12-month period in response to staff shortages.
The Shortage Occupation List stipulates an annual salary minimum of £20,480 for carers to qualify for the Health and Care visa. The temporary measures will take effect on 15 February and will be reviewed after 12 months. They reflect a recommendation from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) which noted "severe and increasing difficulties faced by the care sector in terms of both recruitment and retention" following the end of free movement.
Applicants for visas under this route will have to submit criminal record certificates in support of their applications from countries they have been present in for 12 months or more (while aged 18 or over) in the ten years before they apply.
Under the Skilled Worker route these workers can be sponsored for up to five years, can come to the UK with their partners and children and can qualify for settlement in the UK after five years (should they remain employed and wish to remain in the UK). Applicants will also benefit from a 50 percent visa fee reduction, an exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge (for access to NHS services) and faster visa application decision-making times.