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Health and Care Visa (Application Guide)

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The Health and Care visa was designed to encourage healthcare professionals from around the world to come to work in the UK health sector.

For applicants, the benefits of the new Health and Care Worker visa include fast-tracked entry to the UK, together with reduced visa fees and exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge. It also includes the support of a dedicated team within UKVI in processing visa applications for migrants and their dependent families.

The visa opened to applications from 4 August 2020, and forms part of the UK’s new immigration system.

Below we look at the key requirements for this visa route, including eligibility criteria and the application process, Health & Care visa costs and processing times.


Who is eligible for the Health and Care visa?

Qualified doctors, nurses, health professionals and adult social care professionals are eligible to apply for the Health and Care visa.

It is open to individuals applying under the skilled worker route for entry clearance or leave to remain who and will be taking up a job offer in one of the occupations specified within a prescribed list of Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes.

The list of eligible professions is subject to change, and at present includes the following:


SOC code Eligible job roles
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 eg audiologists and occupational health advisers
2221 Physiotherapists
2222 Occupational therapists
2223 Speech and language therapists
2229 Therapy professionals not elsewhere classified eg osteopaths and psychotherapists
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 well as the role coming under one of the above SOC categories, to qualify for the visa an applicant must also have been offered employment from a licenced sponsor. The sponsoring organisation must also either be an NHS body or trust, a medical services provider to the NHS, an organisation providing adult social care, or one of several other medical and social care organisations listed in the official guidance. This could include, for example, someone who is employed or engaged by, or registered with one of the following industry bodies:

  • General Chiropractic Council
  • General Dental Council
  • General Medical Council
  • General Optical Council
  • General Osteopathic Council
  • General Pharmaceutical Council
  • Health and Care Professions Council
  • Northern Ireland Social Care Council
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland
  • Scottish Social Services Council
  • Social Care Wales


If you are not taking up a job role in one of the prescribed occupations for a designated organisation, you will not be eligible for the new Health and Care visa, although it remains open to applicants who fall outside the new visa route to apply under the standard Skilled Worker visa arrangements.


What are the Health and Care visa requirements?

The Health and Care visa applicants have to meet all the relevant criteria as under the Skilled Worker visa route, which are:

  • Have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a UK licensed sponsor
  • Have the offer of a qualifying job that meets the relevant salary threshold
  • Have sufficient personal savings so that you can support yourself on arrival in the UK
  • Have a good working knowledge of the English language
  • Be able to show that you can travel, as well as providing your travel history over the preceding 5 years
  • Have valid tuberculosis test results, if you are from a listed country
  • Be able to provide a criminal record certificate from any country where you have lived for 12 months or more within the last 10 years, if you will be working with vulnerable people as a healthcare professional.


As part of the eligibility criteria, you will need to meet the salary requirement, which is to either over the minimum salary threshold or the appropriate rate for the job you have been offered, whichever is higher.

You must also evidence that you can financially support yourself by proving you have had £945 in your bank account for 90 days before you apply. This requirement is not necessary if you have a fully approved A-rated sponsor who can give you at least £945 to cover your costs for a month if you need it, although your UK sponsor must confirm this on your CoS.


Will I be told if I am eligible for a Health and Care visa?

As a prospective employee, your new employer will be responsible for informing you that you are eligible for the Health and Care visa. In this way, you will be able to correctly complete the visa application form. Your employer will also need to provide a brief explanation in the note field of the CoS setting out how you will meet the eligible visa role requirement in your new job.

If your UK sponsor is a private organisation that provides healthcare services commissioned by the NHS, an explanation, and possibly documentary evidence, as to the contractual arrangements with the NHS will also need to be provided as proof of your eligibility for a Health and Care visa.


How to apply for the Health and Care visa

To apply for the Health and Care visa you will first need to be issued with a CoS by your UK sponsor. This will contain a unique reference number. You will then need to apply online on the Home Office website.

Once you have completed all the relevant information, the next stage of the application process is to pay the appropriate fee (see below). You will also need to provide various documents in support of your application.

On receipt of the application, the Home Office will assess the information and documents and you may be offered to either:

  • book a biometrics appointment if is not possible to reuse any biometrics supplied with a previous application, or
  • you will be advised how to enrol biometrics using an ID app.


Health and Care visa supporting documentation

As with any UK visa application, you will need to provide various documents in support including, where relevant, the following:

  • A statement or letter from your bank or building society showing you have enough personal savings, unless your CoS shows your A-rated sponsor can support you instead
  • Proof of your knowledge of English
  • A current, valid passport or travel document to prove you can travel
  • Any expired passports or travel documents to show your travel history
  • Your tuberculosis test results if you are from a listed country
  • A criminal record certificate.


Unless you are exempt, for example, because you are a national of a majority English-speaking country, to prove your knowledge of English you will usually need to show that you have passed an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening, or have an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.

If you are applying as a doctor, dentist, nurse or midwife, you will be able to rely on the assessment of your professional body as proof of your language ability.


Can my partner or dependants join me in the UK?

When applying for a Health and Care visa, immediate family members will be eligible to accompany or join you in the UK on this route. This includes your spouse or partner, and any dependent children.

If you are already in the UK and would like your dependants to join you, your UK sponsor will need to provide written confirmation that your family member is eligible to do so based on your occupation. This should be in the form of a letter or email from the sponsor, setting out the organisation for which you work, and, if not an NHS body, how the organisation qualifies.


What are the Health and Care visa costs?

The Health and Care visa comes with a reduced visa application fee compared to that paid by other skilled workers.

The fees apply to applicants and dependents and are the same for leave to enter the UK or to remain in the UK, to those who qualify under this visa.


Health and Care visa applications made outside the UK
Under 3 years and over 3 years £232
Shortage Occupation category under 3 years £232
Shortage Occupation category over 3 years £464


Health and Care visa applications made within the UK
Under 3 years and over 3 years £232
Shortage Occupation category under 3 years £232
Shortage Occupation category over 3 years £464


The reduced visa fees also apply to dependants.

Applicants and dependants who are eligible to apply under this visa are exempt from having to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

The UK Government has said that health and care workers who would qualify for the visa can still claim a refund if they paid after 31 March.

Frontline workers in the health and social care sector who are not eligible for the new Health and Care Visa will pay the Immigration Health Surcharge but should benefit from a reimbursement scheme. This is in recognition of the contribution of those who have come to the UK to work during the recent pandemic.


What are the Health and Care visa processing times?

Upon receipt, your application for the Health and Care visa will be prioritised and fast-tracked by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

As a result, the vast majority of healthcare professionals applying on this route can usually expect a decision on their application within 3 weeks from the date they provide their biometric information. This is substantially quicker than the current timeframe for skilled worker visa processing, which can be between 8-20 weeks. However, UKVI processing does continue to be subject to delays following the pandemic, so it is recommended to take advice on how current processing times when making your application.

Support is also available by way of a dedicated NHS support and visa processing team, enabling visa applicants and sponsors to contact UKVI’s specialist team if they have any issues with the application process or eligibility for the Health and Care visa.


Do you have a question about the Health and Care Visa?

DavidsonMorris have a specialist team dedicated to supporting applications for the Health and Care visa. We work with employers and employees to guide you through the eligibility requirements and application process. For advice, please contact us.


Health and Care visa FAQs

Do health workers pay the healthcare surcharge?

The liability to pay the healthcare surcharge will depend on the immigration status being applied for and the intended length of stay. However, the UK government have introduced an exemption for health and care workers, who will now be permanently exempt from this charge or entitled to a reimbursement.

Which UK visa for health workers?

Under a new fast-track route, eligible healthcare workers will be able to apply for the Health and Care visa. This forms part of the Tier 2 (General) category for skilled workers, where qualified doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who have been trained to a recognised standard will be eligible to apply.

Are care workers eligible for the Health & Care visa?

Only migrants employed in prescribed occupations are eligible for the Health and Care visa. This means, as the rules currently stand, that many primary care workers will not be at a high enough skill level to qualify under the new scheme.


Last updated: 25 November 2021

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