UK Health Care Visa
The UK Health Care Visa is a visa that the government of the UK introduced in August 2020 to make it easier for foreign healthcare professionals to come and work in the UK. The visa is part of the government’s efforts to address the shortage of healthcare workers in the country, especially in the National Health Service (NHS).
Benefits of a UK Health Care Visa;
This visa provides several benefits to healthcare professionals working in the UK. Some of these benefits include;
Faster processing times;
Applications for this visa are prioritized over other visa applications, which means the processing time is generally faster.
Accessibility to public funds;
All the professionals holding this visa can apply for public funds, such as housing and welfare benefits.
Opportunity to settle in the UK;
All professionals holding this visa might be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK after a certain period.
Dependent family members;
These professionals who hold this visa may be able to bring their family members to the UK along with them.
Overview of the UK Health Care Sector:
The UK healthcare sector is one of the world’s largest and most complex, including NHS, private healthcare providers, and the social care sector. The NHS is a publicly-funded healthcare system that provides free healthcare to all Uk citizens and residents. The private healthcare sector offers healthcare services to those who can afford to pay for them, while the social care sector provides support to seniors and specially-abled people.
Healthcare professionals must meet specific criteria to be eligible for a UK Health Care Visa. These include;
Qualifications and work experience criteria;
These professionals must have relevant qualifications that should be recognized in the UK and relevant work experience.
English language proficiency;
These professionals must be able to speak, read, write, and understand English to a certain level. They must provide evidence of their English language proficiency while applying for the visa.
Criminal record checks:
These professionals must provide a criminal record certificate from the country they belong to; there shouldn’t be any criminal records in the last ten years.
These professionals should have a strong financial status to support themselves in the UK for a specific time. The amount of money required depends on the individual’s circumstances.
The application process for a UK Health Care Visa includes different steps;
Step 1: Check eligibility: These professionals should meet the eligibility criteria before starting their application.
Step 2: Complete the online application: These professionals must complete an online application form and pay the fee.
Step 3: Biometric data: These professionals must provide their biometric data (fingerprints and a photograph) at a visa application center.
Step 4: Submit supporting documents: These professionals must provide supporting documents to show they meet the eligibility criteria.
Step 5: Wait for a decision: These professionals will need to wait for a decision on their visa application.
Required documents and fees;
The documents that these professionals will need to provide as part of their visa application may include:
- A valid passport or travel document
- certificate of sponsorship from a UK employer
- A criminal record certificate
- Evidence of English language proficiency
- Evidence of qualifications and work experience
- Evidence of maintenance funds
The UK Health Care Visa application fee is £232 for a 3-year visa and £464 for a 5-year visa.
Visa processing times and waiting periods;
The processing times for UK Health Care Visas can vary depending on several factors, including the location of the visa application center and the time of year. The current processing times are as follows;
Priority service: Decision within five working days – additional fee of £220
Standard service: Decision within 15 working days.
These professionals should also be aware that there may be waiting periods for appointments at visa application centers, particularly during peak times. It is recommended that they check the availability of work before starting their application.
Job Offer and Sponsorship:
To be eligible for a UK Health Care Visa, healthcare professionals must have a job offer from a UK employer that the Home Office approves. This job offer must be for a position on the Shortage Occupation List for Health and Care Workers or in a profession eligible for a Health and Care Visa.
Employers must be registered with the Home Office as licensed sponsors to be able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to a healthcare professional.
Eligibility criteria for employers
To be eligible to become a licensed sponsor, an employer must:
- Be a genuine organization operating lawfully in the UK
- Not have a history of non-compliance with immigration law or other relevant requirements
- Be able to offer genuine employment that meets the skill and salary level requirements of the visa being applied for
- Have appropriate HR systems and processes in place to comply with sponsor duties and responsibilities.
- Pay the appropriate fees associated with the sponsorship process Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
- A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a document issued by a licensed sponsor to a healthcare professional who has been offered a job in the UK. The CoS contains information about the job offer, including the job title, salary, and start date.
Healthcare professionals must include the CoS reference number in their visa application to be able to apply for a UK Health Care Visa.
It is important to note that issuing a CoS does not guarantee a successful visa application. Healthcare professionals must still meet the eligibility criteria and provide the necessary supporting documents to be granted a UK Health Care Visa.
Health Care Professions Covered by the Visa:
This visa is designed to cover a range of healthcare professions in high demand and experiencing shortages in the UK. The list of occupations that are covered by the visa includes;
- Biological Scientist
- Dental Practitioner
- Health Professional
- Medical Practitioner
- Medical Radiographer
- Occupational Therapist
- Social Worker
- Speech and Language Therapist
The eligibility criteria for each profession varies, but in general, healthcare professionals must meet the following requirements:
Biochemist/Biological Scientist: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in biochemistry, biology, or a related subject and have relevant work experience.
Dental Practitioner: Hold a degree in dentistry and have relevant work experience.
Health Professional: Have a relevant degree or higher qualification in health and meet the specific eligibility criteria for the profession.
Medical Practitioner: Hold a relevant degree in medicine and have completed a recognized postgraduate training program.
Medical Radiographer: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in radiography and have relevant work experience.
Midwife: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in midwifery and have relevant work experience.
Nurse: Hold a relevant degree or higher nursing qualification and relevant work experience.
Occupational Therapist: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in occupational therapy and have relevant work experience.
Ophthalmologist: Hold a relevant degree in medicine and have completed a recognized postgraduate training program in ophthalmology.
Paramedic: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in paramedic science and have relevant work experience.
Pharmacist: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in pharmacy and have relevant work experience.
Physiotherapist: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in physiotherapy and have relevant work experience.
Podiatrist: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in podiatry and have relevant work experience.
Psychologist: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in psychology and have relevant work experience.
Social Worker: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in social work and have relevant work experience.
Speech and Language Therapist: Hold a relevant degree or higher qualification in speech and language therapy and have relevant work experience.
Dependents and Family Members:
These professionals granted a UK Health Care Visa can bring their dependents and family members to the UK, provided that they meet the eligibility criteria.
Dependents and family members who are eligible to apply for a UK Health Care Visa include:
- Spouses, civil partners, or unmarried partners of the health care professional
- Children under the age of 18
To be eligible for a UK Health Care Visa as a dependent or family member, individuals must be able to provide evidence that:
- They are related to the health care professional as a spouse, partner, child, or dependent relative
- They need more maintenance funds to support themselves without accessing public funds in the UK.
The visa application process for dependents and family members
Dependents and family members can apply for a UK Health Care Visa simultaneously as the health care professional or separately after the healthcare professional has already been granted their visa.
The application process for dependents and family members is similar to that of the health care professional and requires the submission of supporting documents and payment of the relevant fees.
Work and study opportunities for dependents and family members
Dependents and family members granted a UK Health Care Visa can work and study in the UK.
Spouses and partners of the health care professional can work in any profession without needing a separate work visa. Children who are under the age of 18 can study at any school in the UK without the need for a separate study visa. Depending on their circumstances, adult-dependent relatives who wish to work or study in the UK may need to apply for separate visas.
Visa Renewal and Permanent Residency:
UK Health Care Visas are generally granted for two years, after which they can be renewed for an additional two years if the healthcare professional meets the eligibility requirements.
Visa renewal requirements
To renew a UK Health Care Visa, the healthcare professional must continue to meet the following requirements:
- They must continue to work in their chosen healthcare profession in the UK
- They must continue to meet the English language proficiency requirement
- They must have sufficient maintenance funds to support themselves without accessing public funds in the UK
Conditions for Obtaining Permanent Residency
Healthcare professionals who hold a UK Health Care Visa may be eligible to apply for Permanent Residency in the UK after five years of continuous residence, provided that they meet certain conditions, such as:
- They have not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months
- They have not breached any UK immigration laws
- They have not accessed public funds, such as welfare benefits or social housing, during their stay in the UK.
- They meet the English language proficiency requirements
- They pass the Life in the UK test, which assesses their knowledge of British history, culture, and society
Permanent Residency requirements and benefits
The benefits of obtaining a Permanent Residency in the UK include living and working indefinitely and accessing public services such as healthcare and education.
To maintain Permanent Residency status, individuals must continue to meet the following requirements:
- They must not spend more than two years outside the UK without risking losing their Permanent Residency status.
- They must not commit any criminal offenses that could result in their deportation from the UK.
- They must not engage in activities that threaten national security or public safety.
Overall, the UK Health Care Visa provides health care professionals with a clear path to living and working in the UK and the opportunity to eventually obtain Permanent Residency and all the benefits that come with it.
Benefits of a UK Health Care Visa:
Opportunity to work in the UK: The UK Health Care Visa provides a clear pathway for health care professionals to live and work in the UK.
Access to the National Health Service (NHS): Healthcare professionals with a UK Health Care Visa can work within the NHS and benefit from its excellent training opportunities and resources.
Opportunity to obtain Permanent Residency: After five years of continuous residence in the UK, healthcare professionals with a UK Health Care Visa may be eligible to apply.
Family members can join: The UK Health Care Visa allows for bringing family members and dependents to the UK, which can provide stability and support for the health care professional.
Disadvantages of a UK Health Care Visa:
Strict eligibility criteria: Healthcare professionals who wish to apply for a UK Health Care Visa must meet strict eligibility criteria, including qualifications and work experience requirements, English language proficiency, and criminal record checks.
Cost: The fees associated with the visa application process can be expensive, and the healthcare professional may also need to provide evidence of maintenance funds.
Time-consuming application process: The application process for a UK Health Care Visa can be time-consuming and require a significant amount of paperwork.
Uncertainty around Brexit: The impact of Brexit on the UK’s immigration policies is still unclear, which may cause uncertainty and potential disruption for healthcare professionals who hold a UK Health Care Visa.
In summary, the UK Health Care Visa is a special visa category that offers healthcare professionals the opportunity to live and work in the UK. This visa provides a clear pathway to a career in the UK’s healthcare sector, which offers excellent training opportunities, competitive salaries, and benefits. The UK Health Care Visa also provides a pathway to obtaining Permanent Residency, which has many benefits.
While there are some drawbacks to the UK Health Care Visa, such as the strict eligibility criteria and cost, the benefits of this visa category far outweigh the disadvantages. Overall, the UK Health Care Visa provides healthcare professionals with a unique opportunity to build a career in one of the most highly-regarded healthcare systems in the world.