Updated: Sep 8, 2020
The UK Government introduced a ‘Health and Care Visa’ this summer which is designed for applicants who are qualified doctors, nurses and certain health professionals who have been trained to a recognised standard and have a working knowledge of English.
Why a ‘Health and Care Visa’?
The Health and Care Visa is one of the skilled-worker visas under Tier 2 and will thus require sponsorship. There are reasons why you would apply for a Health and Care Visa rather than other Tier 2 visas.
1. No IHS
Applicants of this visa are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which all other applicants are required to pay as part of the application. This exemption also applies to their dependants.
Under current (as at 05/09/2020) Immigration Rules, Tier 2 visa applicants must pay £400 per year. This means that if you are offered a position for 5 years (the maximum length your sponsor can offer you a position initially), you and your dependants will be exempt from the payment of £2000 IHS per person.
2. Fast-track processing
The Guidance states that UKVI prioritises Health and Care Visa applicants so that in most cases their applications will be processed within only three weeks (current Tier 2 General in-country extension or switch applications take up to 8 weeks).
3. Reduced application fees
Individuals applying for the Health and Care Visa will pay reduced application fees. This policy also applies to the applicants’ partners and dependents.
Currently the visa for up to 3 years costs £232 and for more than 3 years costs £464. The fee is the same whether you apply from inside or outside the UK. In comparison, Tier 2 General visa for up to 3 years costs £704 (£610 if you apply outside the UK) and the visa for more than 3 years costs £1,408 (£1,220 if you apply outside the UK). Under Tier 2 General visa, your dependents also must pay the same amount per person.
Are you eligible for this visa?
UK immigration law is complex. Although it is obvious that the UK government has committed to inviting health and care professionals from overseas, there are a number of eligibility requirements you must meet.
Most importantly, you must be offered a job by a licensed sponsor. The position must be one of the specified occupations. To apply for a job with a licensed sponsor, you may be required to complete a registration with an authorised body or prove your English is at certain level. You may be able to switch from certain other visas to this category without leaving the UK. Once you have received a job offer and met all other eligibility requirements (details are available in the Guidance), you may finally start your application.
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, we have witnessed that working in the health and care sector is extremely tough, but it is absolutely recognised and appreciated by UK society. If you are a qualified health and care professional and would like to contribute to saving lives in the UK, you will probably be most welcome by the Home Office.
Author: Yukino Posthuma de Boer
I undertake a broad spectrum of immigration work with a particular interest in Tiers 2 and 5 as well as other Business Immigration categories.