Health and Care Worker

Changes to the Health and Care Worker Visa and what they mean

What is a Health and Care Visa?

Who is eligible for a Health and Care Visa?

In order to qualify for a Health and Care Worker Visa:

  • You must be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional.
  • Work for a UK employer approved by the Home Office and have a ‘certificate of sponsorship.’
  • Be paid a minimum salary of £26,200 per year or £10.75 per hour.
  • You must be able to speak, read, write, and understand English. You will be required to prove your knowledge when you apply for the visa.
  • Employers of care workers and senior care workers in the UK must be registered with the Care Quality Commission.

How long can you stay in the UK on a Health and Care Visa?

  • Your visa can be granted for up to  5 years in the first instance.
  • If the visa was issued for less than 5 years, you will need to apply to extend your visa when it expires and you will need to update your visa if you change jobs.
  • You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.
  • After 5 years, you may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.             

What changes have been made to the Health and Care Visa and why?

On 4th December 2023, UK Home Secretary James Cleverly reaffirmed  plans to significantly decrease net migration to the UK. To achieve this, he announced a ‘5 Point Plan’. Under this plan, significant changes have been made to the Health and Care Worker Visa.

As of 11th March 2024, individuals entering the UK as a care worker or senior care worker under a Health and Care Visa are no longer allowed to bring their dependants with them. They are also prevented from sponsoring their applications to join them in the UK.

This robust amendment comes as a result of mounting pressure on the current Conservative government to decrease net migration to the UK which hit a record level of almost 750,000 people in 2022. The pressure comes from those who are concerned that immigration to the UK  is negatively impacting job opportunities for British workers and placing ‘unnecessary’ pressure on core infrastructure such as housing and the NHS.

The Home Secretary  promises to ‘end’ the ‘abuse’ of the Health and Care Visa yet, according to healthcare experts, the ban on dependents is likely to have negative rather than positive impacts on the NHS. By making the UK less attractive to healthcare workers, the government risks exacerbating existing staff shortages.

What are the impacts of these changes?

The Home Secretary’s policy is both cruel and inhumane. Banning care workers and senior care workers from bringing their dependents to the UK has negative impacts on both migrant workers and on the UK’s healthcare system. Though this ban applies to certain roles within the Health and Care Worker category, it may cause potential applicants to fear a wider roll out of the restrictions. Furthermore, not only does it separate families but it leaves health and care workers at an increased risk of destitution. Without being able to depend on the salaries of their dependents, at times of need, many health and care workers are at an increased risk of poverty. This is exacerbated by the fact that migrant health workers are not eligible for welfare benefits in the UK.

Experts warn that the ban will place further pressure on the already understaffed NHS and care system. According to an article by Open Democracy, care workers and senior care workers have already started pulling out of the UK recruitments process due to the visa changes. In fact, they are growing increasingly likely to take their skillsets to other countries.

How does this compare to other countries?

In Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA health and care workers can bring their dependents and are offered more humane treatment from the governments as well as higher pay. For health and care workers in America, “the average salary for a registered nurse is “double or triple” the UK rates, at about $80,000 (£63,000) a year.” This means that much needed vacances are at risk of remaining empty despite the ever increasing need for care workers for the UK’s ageing population. If the UK government is committed to continuing to cut net migration it must “…act swiftly and invest in improving the pay and conditions to drive domestic recruitment if it plans to move away from international recruitment as the solution to fixing the social care workforce crisis”.

Changes to the Health and Care worker Visa present challenges for prospective migrant workers and for the future of the NHS and the social welfare system in the UK. According to a report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, “Rising demand and an ageing population means the situation is likely to become even more dire, with more than 400,000 extra jobs needed over the next decade or so.” This means that the industry is set to become increasingly reliant on overseas workers to provide vital services.  Migrants workers are and always have been absolutely essential to the NHS and they should be treated as such.

How we can help you

If you have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice, or help with applying for a visa, Thomas Chase Immigration can help. Our processes are tried and tested. We offer an individual touch when assisting you and presenting the matter to UKVI. Contact us at


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