New Health and Care Visa route to be introduced in August

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This new visa will allow trained health care workers with good working English to benefit from the following:

  • Fast-track entry into the UK;
  • Support with the application process for themselves and their families;
  • Reduced visa fees; and
  • Exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge which is currently £400 per year (increasing to £624 from 1 October 2020).

Applicants will also need to show evidence of an appropriate salary level, sufficient personal savings and their travel history over the past 5 years, in addition to criminal record and health checks.

Eligible roles include paramedics, social workers, nurses, midwives, scientists, pharmacists and medical practitioners among others.

Before assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), employers should check that the role in question qualifies for the Health and Care Visa by reading the Tier 2 Policy Guidance which sets out detailed eligibility criteria. If the criteria is not fulfilled, the application is likely to be rejected and/or the applicant will need to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa for skilled workers instead.

If the applicant is eligible, employers will need to explain how the requirements for the Health and Care Visa will be met. The employer must also inform the applicant that they are eligible at the application stage so that the relevant visa can be selected within the application form. Applications cannot be made prior to 4 August 2020, although a CoS can be assigned ahead of time.

Although this is a step in the right direction, commitment to healthcare professionals is already underway by the Government, through visa extensions and the bereavement scheme. The Prime Minister has also announced that healthcare professionals are now exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge, with payments made since 31 March being refunded.

It appears that the Government is listening to the advice of the independent Migration Advisory Committee in relation to immigration within this sector, although concerns remain that many healthcare workers will not qualify for this route due to the requirement of a certain salary level.

For more information about the changes to the immigration system, please click here.