Skip to content

Expert Insights

31 January 2022

The UK's Immigration System Opens Up to Overseas Care Workers

In what is no doubt very welcome news to the care sector, the UK Government has announced that the Skilled Worker (Health and Care visa) route for overseas workers will be expanded to include roles for care workers and home carers.

What is changing?

From 15 February 2022 employers will be able to sponsor care workers and home carers under the Skilled Worker (Health and Care visa) category. These roles, with related job titles such as care assistants and home care assistants, are to fall within the Shortage Occupation List meaning lower application fees for applicants and lower salary requirements. There will be a minimum salary threshold of at least £20,480 per annum or £10.10 per hour (whichever is higher). The roles are to be included within the Skilled Worker category despite falling below the usual RQF Level 3 threshold. Their continued inclusion will be subject to ongoing review.   

The rules are clear that private household and individuals (other than sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business) will not be able to hold a sponsor licence or sponsor workers under this category.

What should employers in the care sector be doing?

Employers operating in the care sector without a sponsor licence who may need to sponsor EU and non-EU workers should apply now. Sponsor licence applications can take up to eight weeks to be processed, and whilst there are priority processing slots available daily, these are in short supply.  As part of the sponsor licence application process, employers should also take steps to ensure they understand, and are able to meet, the compliance requirements of holding a sponsor licence and sponsoring overseas workers.

Overseas applicants will need to apply for a visa before coming to the UK. Migrants already in the UK in another visa category (except visit visa holders) will be able to switch visas from within the UK.   Accompanying family members are permitted and the route also offers a path to permanent residency after 5 years in the UK under this category.

For more information please contact Rose Carey, Kelvin Tanner, or any other member of the immigration team.