As of August 2021, vacancies in the care sector have returned to pre-pandemic levels. Brexit, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it extremely difficult for organisations to retain their nurses and care staff on a long-term basis. This has caused a knock-on effect, reducing the number of available beds in NHS hospitals because of the increased number of hospital patients unable to be discharged to care homes due to the lack of care workers.
To relieve the shortage of nurses and care workers in the UK, health and care organisations have the option to apply for a Worker sponsor licence to fill their vacancies with overseas staff under the Health and Care Worker route. To be eligible, an organisation must be an approved UK health and care sector organisation registered to provide adult social care. The salary requirement for sponsored nurses and care workers, with the minimum being the higher of £25,600 per year.
The application process
The application process for a Worker sponsor licence does not allow room for error. The non-refundable Home Office application fee is £536 for small organisations and £1,476 for medium to large businesses. A flawed or incomplete sponsor licence application may still be approved but could result in the licence with a B-rating instead of an A-rating, which prevents an organisation from being allowed to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship for an overseas worker.
To be eligible, as an employer, you cannot have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering, or had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will review your application form and supporting documents. They may visit your business to ensure you’re trustworthy and capable of carrying out your duties.
The Skilled Worker route includes the health and care visa which applies to qualified doctors, nurses and allied professionals working in either health or social care.
The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) cap has been suspended which means there will be no limit to the number of eligible skilled workers wishing to come to the UK unless this is reinstated.
Applications are fast-tracked by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and the aim is to process them within three weeks, providing biometric information has been made available. The CoS may be granted within one working day, once the Cos has been awarded, it must be assigned to an individual within three months or it will expire, and the process would need to be completed again.
As an employer, you must assign a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign worker you employ. This is an electronic record (SMS system), and not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa. When you assign the certificate to a worker, they must use it to apply for their visa within 3 months.
At QAQF we provide overseas nurses and care workers necessary training (CBT, OSCE and OET), in accordance with the NMC regulation for them to be able to obtain their PIN as registered nurses in the UK. We provide the best health and care professionals from overseas to alleviate the shortage of care workers in the UK.
Danica Luches is the QAQF Compliance Officer. She has a legal background, but coming from a healthcare family herself, she loves the nursing profession. In her daily work with trainees and care homes, she makes the procedures and regulation process painless. You can contact Danica at email@example.com