Types of care roles eligible
for sponsorship under the
Health and Care Worker route

A new report published this month by Skills for Care shows that the number of vacant posts in adult social care have increased by 52% in one year, meaning that on any given day there are around 165,000 vacancies in the sector. This represents the highest rate of vacancies since the industry body began publishing its annual workforce report in 2012/13.

The report sets out the key challenges facing the sector in relation to workforce supply and demand, as well as recruitment and retention. With increased vacancy rates running alongside a growing demand for services, Skills for Care predicts that an extra 480,000 workers may be needed by 2035 if the social care sector is to keep pace with demand.

At a time where the care sector urgently needs more staff, many care homes are turning to overseas recruitment to source the workers they need. Pre-Brexit, European nationals were free to work in the UK without requiring a visa. For this reason, many employers in the care sector became heavily reliant on EU workers to fill care worker roles within their business. Now that free movement has come to an end however, employers wishing to hire a care worker without an existing right to work in the UK must do so using the Home Office sponsorship system.

In February 2022, the Home Office introduced temporary measures to tackle staff shortages in the care sector by adding care workers and home carers to the list of occupations eligible for a Skilled Worker visa. Previously, only senior care workers were eligible. The changes have been introduced for an initial period of 12 months, at which point the Home Office will review the situation and decide whether or not to extend the provisions.

Employers in the care sector who think they may need to recruit overseas care workers in the near future are therefore advised to begin the process now, to ensure they can onboard their new recruits whilst the roles remain eligible for sponsorship. With this in mind, we set out below the exact roles and job titles that qualify for sponsorship, and how to ensure you select the correct occupation code for your vacancies.

Which care roles are eligible for sponsorship?

The Health and Care Worker visa forms part of the Skilled Worker route, and is designed to allow healthcare professionals to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care.

The care roles and related job titles currently eligible for a Health and Care Worker visa are:

  • 6145 – Care workers and home carers
    • Care assistant
    • Care worker
    • Resident warden
    • Carer
    • Home care assistant
    • Home carer
    • Support worker (nursing home)
  • 6146 – Senior care workers
    • Senior care assistant
    • Senior carer
    • Senior support worker (Local government: welfare services)
    • Team leader (nursing home)

Choosing the correct occupation code

When applying to sponsor a worker on a Health and Care Worker visa, it is important to select the correct 4-digit Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. The SOC code is used to show the Home Office that the migrant worker’s role meets the prescribed skill and salary thresholds in order to qualify for a visa.

It is the sponsor’s responsibility to ensure that the most appropriate SOC code is selected for the role in question. Using the incorrect SOC code on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) could result in the application being delayed or rejected.

If you are not sure which is the most appropriate code to use, you can search for the job in the ONS occupation coding tool. You should then read the job descriptions and tasks for the possible occupation codes that the tool has identified, and select the closest match for the job you are offering.

The tool lists the following brief job descriptions for eligible care roles:

  • 6145 – Care workers and home carers: Care workers and home carers attend to the personal needs and comforts of the elderly and the infirm with care and support needs (service users) within residential care establishments, day care establishments or in their own homes.
  • 6146 – Senior care workers: Senior care workers routinely oversee and monitor care workers, care assistants and home carers. They also attend to the personal needs and comforts of the elderly and the infirm with care and support needs (service users) within residential care establishments, day care establishments or in their own homes.

To see a detailed list of entry requirements and responsibilities for each occupation, use the ONS tool to search for the job title or SOC code.

What are the salary requirements?

To qualify for a Health and Care Worker visa, care workers must be paid at least the minimum salary threshold of £20,480.

Employers should be aware that the Home Office makes regular checks with HMRC to ensure sponsors are paying at least the salary stated on the CoS, or in any other notification of a change of salary.

Support with sponsor compliance

If your care home is looking to recruit skilled workers from overseas, Smith Stone Walters can help. We have worked with many employers in the adult social care sector to help them secure sponsor approval and obtain Health and Care Worker visas for their new hires.

To find out more about partnering with us, please contact us today.

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