Health and Care Visa Scheme Expanded
The health and care visa is undergoing some temporary changes to make it quicker, easier, and more affordable for social care employers to recruit qualified social care workers, care assistants, and home care workers to fill gaps that are predicted to occur in the next twelve years. In addition, the pandemic has highlighted numerous staff shortages across many industries, particularly within the social care sector, which adds heavy pressure to employees.
By enabling these temporary changes, the government is following the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). They want to ensure that care workers and home carers are eligible for the Health and Care Visa and can add the profession to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
Being included in the Shortage Occupation List enables an annual salary minimum of £20,480 for care workers to qualify for the Health Care Visa. This visa will allow applicants and dependents to benefit from a fast-track process, dedicated resources, and reduced visa fees.
The Health and Care Worker Visa was introduced in August 2020, and this was to allow medical professionals to work within the NHS and stay in the UK to practice adult social care or be an NHS supplier. The visa benefits allow a 50% reduction in fees, faster processing times, and an exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has said, “It is vital we continue to do all we can to protect the social care sector during the pandemic and beyond. Together with the series of support packages announced in September, these measures will help us ensure short-term sustainability and success for our long-term vision to build social care back better. I also urge all care staff yet to do so to come forward to Get Boosted Now to protect themselves and those they care for. Providers who are new to visa sponsorship will be supported through a series of engagement activities in January and February to introduce them to the system and find out how to act as a visa sponsors. Care workers and carers recruited to the UK will be able to bring their dependents, including partners and children, with the Health and Care visa offering a pathway to settlement should they remain employed and wish to remain in the UK.
Home Secretary Priti Patel MP has also said, “The care sector is experiencing unprecedented challenges prompted by the pandemic, and the changes we’ve made to the health and care visa will bolster the workforce and help alleviate some of the pressures currently being experienced. This is our New Plan for Immigration in action, delivering our commitment to support the NHS and the more comprehensive health and care sector by making it easier for health professionals to live and work in the UK.
Our Minister for Care, Gillian Keegan, said “Our social care staff has done a phenomenal job delivering care under the most challenging circumstances. However, we recognize the workforce’s challenges, with the ever-growing demand for services combined with the pandemic and existing staff shortages. This change will support getting more people into care as we implement our long-term strategy for a fair and sustainable care sector that meets the needs of everyone.”
It is a requirement for anyone working in CQC-regulated care homes to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to comply with regulations. In addition, those working in more comprehensive social care settings must be fully immunized against COVID-19 by the 1st of April 2022.
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