Thousands of care workers, care assistants and home care workers are to become eligible for Health and Care Visa for a 12 month period, the UK government has announced.
The UK government has announced that thousands of additional care workers will be recruited from abroad to fill the rising workforce shortage, after figures showed more than 40,000 social care staff had left in the past six months.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted a range of staff shortages within the social care sector, placing pressures on the existing workforce, despite the incredible and tireless efforts of social care staff.
This boost follows the recommendation from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to make care workers and home carers eligible for the Health and Care visa and add the occupation to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
Care workers who arrive on a 12-month health and care visa must receive an annual salary of at least £20,480 to qualify, with the measures expected to come into effect early next year. They will be entitled to bring dependants, including a partner and children.
The Health and Care visa will allow applicants and their dependents to benefit from fast-track processing, dedicated resources in processing applications and reduced visa fees, the Department announcement said.
The temporary measures are expected to come into effect early next year and will be in place for a minimum of 12 months, providing a much-needed staffing boost while the sector deals with the additional pressures of the pandemic, at which point they will be reviewed.
Home Secretary Priti Patel MP 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 helping alleviate some of the pressures currently being experienced.”, adding, “This is our New Plan for Immigration in action, delivering our commitment to support the NHS and the wider health and care sector by making it easier for health professionals to live and work in the UK.”
The Health and Care Worker visa was launched in August 2020 and it allows medical professionals to come to or stay in the UK to work with the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care. The Visa offers 50% visa fee reduction, an exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge and a speedier decision following application.