Care workers and home carers
to be eligible for UK visa
from February

Earlier this month, Smith Stone Walters reported on upcoming changes to the Immigration Rules which are set to make thousands of additional care workers from overseas newly eligible for a UK visa. The government has now released further details on the amendments in a Statement of Changes published on 24 January.

The changes will come into effect on 15 February 2022. However, any applications for entry clearance, permission to enter or permission to stay that are submitted before this date will be decided in accordance with the Immigration Rules in force on 14 February 2022.

What is changing and why?

The changes being made add care workers to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), and make the role eligible for the Skilled Worker route, disapplying the usual requirement that a role must be skilled to at least RQF level 3 (broadly equivalent to a level of skills obtained through A-levels or Scottish Highers).

These measures for care workers are being introduced in response to a recommendation by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent body which advises the Home Office on migration related issues. The MAC carried out a public call for evidence between August and October 2021 to examine the impact of the ending of free movement on the adult social care sector.

As a result of the evidence gathered, the MAC recommended that the government make Care Workers and Home Carers (SOC Code 6145) immediately eligible for the Health and Care Worker Visa (which forms part of the Skilled Worker route), and place the occupation on the SOL. The Statement of Changes confirms that the recommendations will be applied in February to help alleviate the current pressures on the health and social care sector as a result of COVID-19.

Newly eligible care roles

The Skilled Worker route is for applicants with a specific job offer from an approved sponsoring employer. A key existing requirement of the Skilled Worker route is the job offer must be one which involves duties and responsibilities involving skills equivalent to RQF level 3. Applicants do not need to hold a formal qualification, as it is the skill level of the job they will be doing which is important. These changes effectively remove the skills threshold for care workers, thus allowing them to qualify for the route.

From 15 February, the following roles will be added to the list of Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes which qualify for a Health and Care Worker visa:

  • 6145 Care workers and home carers
  • Related eligible job titles:
    • Care assistant
    • Care worker
    • Carer
    • Home care assistant
    • Home carer
    • Support worker (nursing home).

Care workers added to the SOL

By also adding these roles to the SOL, applicants will benefit from lower salary requirements and reduced visa application fees compared to other Skilled Workers.

Sponsors offering jobs in shortage occupations must offer applicants a salary at least equal to whichever is the highest of:

  • £20,480 per year
  • £10.10 per hour
  • 80% of the going rate for the occupation code, as listed in Appendix Skilled Occupations

As the third requirement is lower than the other two requirements for care workers, only the first two requirements will apply to this occupation. This will allow employers in the sector to bring in workers on a lower salary than the general salary threshold under the Skilled Worker route, which is £25,600 per year.

The cost for a care worker to apply for a Health and Care Worker visa will be £232 where a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is issued for 3 years or less, or £464 where a CoS is issued for more than 3 years.

Sponsorship requirements

It is important to note that sponsorship from a licenced employer remains an essential requirement for care workers applying for a Skilled Worker visa under the amended rules.

Although home carers are included in the same occupation code, these changes are not designed to enable home carers to be sponsored as Skilled Workers, unless they are working for an organisation which is able to meet the sponsorship requirements. Private households or individuals cannot sponsor Skilled Workers, unless they are sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business.

Impact on the care sector

The changes are expected to have a positive impact on businesses, charities and voluntary bodies in the care sector, as these organisations will now be able to sponsor care workers where they have previously been unable to. Although the measures will be kept under review, it is anticipated that the new rules will provide short term relief from the mounting pressures on the sector amid the pandemic and widespread labour shortages.

Smith Stone Walters can provide legal advice and support for applicants and organisations wishing to sponsor overseas workers on a Health and Care Worker visa. To find out how we can help, please call 0208 461 6660 or email

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