8 new health and care roles
added to the Shortage
Occupation List

In a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules published on 4 March 2021, the Home Office announced that a number of job roles in the health and care sector have now been added to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

Senior care workers, physiotherapists and pharmacists are among the eight occupations that have been newly added to the list, meaning employers will now find it easier to recruit overseas staff into these roles, and suitably qualified individuals will have an advantage in obtaining a Skilled Worker visa if they hold a job offer in any of these occupations.

The move follows several other recent immigration changes which aim to recognise and reward the significant impact migrant workers contribute to the NHS and the wider health and social care sector in the UK. By including more health and care occupations on the Shortage Occupation List, the Home Office intends to help business and public services gain easier access to the best and brightest talent from across the world.

Speaking about the changes, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster said: “Every year we welcome healthcare workers from across the world to our United Kingdom, with many having played a key role on the frontline of the NHS during the recent pandemic. This latest set of changes, combined with our Health and Care Visa, will ensure they can easily get the immigration status they deserve.”

What is the Shortage Occupation List?

The Shortage Occupation List shows job roles where UK employers face a shortage of suitable labour in the resident market, and where it is sensible to fill those shortages with migrant workers.

Occupations on the list are then subject to more favourable immigration arrangements, enabling employers to access a wider pool of suitably skilled workers more quickly. For an occupation to be eligible for inclusion on the list, it must be:

  • Skilled at the required level set by the government
  • In ‘shortage’, in that the demand for labour is higher than the supply
  • Considered ‘sensible’ to fill this shortage with migrant workers

All occupations are eligible for inclusion on the UK-wide SOL, but also on SOLs specific to the devolved nations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Which health and care roles are now eligible?

Following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent body which advises the government on migration issues, the Home Office has added eight health and care occupations to the UK-wide Shortage Occupation List.

The eight occupations are:

  • Health services and public health managers and directors
  • Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
  • Pharmacists
  • Health professionals not elsewhere classified, such as audiologists and dental hygiene therapists.
  • Physiotherapists
  • Laboratory technicians (including those not in the health and care sectors)
  • Nursing auxiliaries and assistants
  • Senior care workers

How will the changes impact applicants and employers?

Roles which feature on the Shortage Occupation List give individuals an advantage in obtaining a Skilled Worker visa.

The Skilled Worker route forms part of the UK’s points-based immigration system. Skilled Worker visas are awarded to applicants who meet a specific set of criteria for which they score points. A minimum of 70 points is required to be granted entry to the UK.

To be granted a visa, applicants must meet the following mandatory criteria:

  • Hold a confirmed job offer from an approved sponsor (20 points)
  • The job is at an appropriate skill level (20 points)
  • The applicant speaks English (10 points)

A role on the Shortage Occupation List is worth an additional 20 points. Combined with the mandatory criteria, holding a job offer in a shortage occupation will ensure people in these roles reach the required 70 points.

Employers sponsoring workers in a shortage occupation will need to pay them at least the minimum salary of £20,480, or 80% the ‘going rate’ for the occupation, whichever is higher.

The Health and Care Visa

Employers recruiting workers into health and care roles can also benefit from the fast-tracked, reduced-fee Health and Care visa category to bring in skilled workers more quickly.

The Health and Care visa is part of the Skilled Worker route, and allows medical professionals to come to the UK to do an eligible job within the NHS, the social care sector, or an employer that provides commissioned services to the NHS. As well as holding a job offer in one of the defined professions, applicants must meet all the requirements of the Skilled Worker route.

The cost to apply for a Health and Care visa is currently £232 for up to three years, or £464 for more than three years. As well as the reduced fee, applicants and their dependents are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge.

The Home Office aims to provide a decision within three weeks of an application being submitted.

Recruiting skilled workers from overseas?

If you are an employer intending to recruit skilled workers from overseas, there are a number of considerations you should take into account, including which route is best suited to your hires, ensuring your business is compliant with the immigration rules, and understanding the costs involved.

Smith Stone Walters is experienced in managing immigration moves for businesses in a wide range of sectors. To find out how we can support you and your organisation, please contact us today.

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