5 January 2022
Health and Care visa scheme: changes coming in 2022
What is the issue?
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for more staff within the social care sector. The shortage of staff is what is currently driving increasing amounts of pressure, despite the tireless efforts of the current workforce across the UK. As a result, care staff will be added to the shortage occupation list.
What is about to change?
To boost the social care workforce, temporary changes to the health and care visa scheme are going to be made to make all care staff eligible for a 12-month visa. This change will make it quicker and cheaper to recruit workers, filling the vital gaps needed within the sector.
This boost to the health and care sector follows the current recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report 2021. It complements the £462.5 million investment in the Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund and the £500 million for workforce training, qualifications and wellbeing as part of the Health and Social Care Levy.
When will the temporary measures be introduced?
The changes are expected to come into effect in early 2022. They will be in place for a minimum of 12 months, providing the necessary staffing boost within the care sector. It is hoped the changes will release the additional pressures incurred by the coronavirus pandemic. These measures will be reviewed annually.
The Shortage Occupation List (SOL)
If care staff are put on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), a minimum annual salary of £20,480 will be needed in order to qualify for the Health and Care visa. This move aims to retain the quality of care and the high skilled workforce. The minimum salary therefore should reflect the professional skills needed.
Eligible visa applicants and their dependents will benefit from the fast-track process and reduced visa fees.
Will there be any visa support?
Any care providers who do not hold a sponsor licence via the Skilled Worker route can take advantage of the visa boost by applying to register for a sponsorship licence before the measures are put in place.
Support will be given to any providers who are new to the visa sponsorship process. This will be done through a series of activities in January and February 2022, introducing them to the system and how to act as a visa sponsor.
The visa will allow all applicants and their dependents to stay within the UK. The visa is designed to offer a pathway to permanent settlement and applicants must remain employed if they wish to retain their residency in the UK.
Will there be any regulations?
All staff working in CQC-regulated care homes are required by regulations to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All workers in the wider social care setting must be fully vaccinated by 1st April 2022 and are encouraged to get their boosters.
Vaccination centres offer priority access for ‘frontline’ staff, including unpaid carers and social care staff, making it easier for anyone who is receiving or giving care to get their vaccinations and boosters.
The Health and Social Care Secretary’s comments
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid – courtesy of GOV.UK – states the importance of the visa boost:
“It is vital we continue to do all we can to protect the social care sector during the pandemic and beyond.
“These measures, together with the series of support packages announced since September, 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.”
The Home Secretary’s comments
Home Secretary Priti Patel has made her comments – courtesy of GOV.UK – regarding the planned changes:
“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.
“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.”
What is the Health and Care Worker Visa?
The Health and Care Worker Visa was introduced in August 2020, allowing medical professionals to come to or stay in the UK to work within the NHS, as 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.
All roles in SOC Code 6145 will be subject to change as this visa is updated. This includes the following job titles: Care Assistant, Care Worker, Carer, Home Care Assistant, Home Carer and Support Worker (Nursing Home).
Ready for assistance?
If you have any questions about the changes or want legal advice, contact
Woodcock Law & Notary Public today. Contact us by phone on 0330 133 6490 or
by email at email@example.com.