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Immigration law expert Sohan Sidhu, of Ellisons explains new visa rules for the healthcare sector





The Home Office has announced a very important change which is likely to be of significant benefit to nursing homes and care providers up and down the country.

Currently, nursing homes and care providers who are in possession of a Home Office Sponsor Licence can sponsor overseas nurses and senior care workers but they have not been able to sponsor care workers or home carers because such jobs were considered to be too low skilled in order to come within the Government’s Skilled Worker route definition.

However, from February 15, the Government has confirmed that it will allow migrant workers to be sponsored in these lower skilled positions but this is only to be on a temporary basis.

Sohan Sidhu, of Ellisons
Sohan Sidhu, of Ellisons

From February 15, migrant workers can apply to work as care workers in the UK provided they meet the many requirements of the Home Office, including having an employer who is in possession of a Home Office Sponsor Licence, earning a set minimum salary and having a good command of the English language.

Overseas migrant workers need to pay many visa and application fees, but specifically for care workers, they will be covered by the Health & Care visa category and this will mean that they will pay a lower visa fee than other migrant workers. Another significant benefit is that they will be exempt from paying the Home Office’s Immigration Health Surcharge, which is levied at £624 per year for the length of the Skilled Worker permit. A five-year Skilled Worker permit will therefore lead to a saving of £3,120.00 for either the worker or their employer.

The Home Office has confirmed that the new scheme will be open for an initial period of 12 months but, importantly, applicants will be able to be accompanied by their partners along with children under the age of 18. It is quite possible that the Home Office will review the scheme before it is due to expire and extend it but there is no indication of this at this stage.

Ellisons
Ellisons

Employers including nursing homes and care providers who would be looking to sponsor care workers from overseas in order to work for them, will need to be in possession of a Home Office Sponsor Licence. Such applications can take two months or so to be decided by the Home Office and the application procedure itself is very comprehensive. Employers without a Home Office Licence will therefore need to consider this in terms of lead times to be in a position to sponsor care workers from abroad.

-- For advice on this or any other immigration matter, contact Sohan Sidhu by email at sohan.sidhu@ellisonssolicitors.com or by telephone on 01284 763333