Costs to consider when
recruiting care workers
4 May 2023
It has now been over a year since the UK government introduced changes to the Immigration Rules to make more care roles eligible for sponsorship under the Health and Care Worker visa route.
The changes have made it quicker and easier for employers in the adult social care sector to bring qualified healthcare professionals to the UK to work in a range of roles including care workers and senior care workers, home carers, care assistants and support workers.
Many businesses exploring sponsorship for the first time are concerned about the costs involved with obtaining a sponsor licence and associated visa costs for each sponsored worker.
However, recruiting overseas workers under the Health and Care Worker visa is not as expensive as you might think. This visa category has been designed to offer a fast-tracked, reduced-fee alternative to the Skilled Worker route.
Updated for Spring 2023, we have set out below the key costs that employers should consider before sponsoring a care worker under the Health and Care Worker route.
In order to qualify for a Health and Care Worker visa, your employee must be paid a minimum salary or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work they will be doing, whichever is higher.
In April 2023, the Home Office increased the salary thresholds and going rates for individual occupations, based on the latest available UK salary data.
Under the new salary rules, sponsored care workers must usually be paid at least £20,960 per year or £10.75 per hour (whichever is higher).
Sponsor licence fees
Before you can begin recruiting care workers from overseas, your business must hold a valid Home Office sponsor licence.
There are several fees you will need to budget for in respect of both obtaining the licence and making individual applications to sponsor workers under your licence.
- Sponsor licence application fee – The cost to apply for a sponsor licence depends on the size and nature of your business. For medium or large sponsors, the application fee is £1,476. Small or charitable sponsors are charged a lower fee of £536 upon application. If you apply to renew your licence after its four-year validity period expires, you will need to pay the same fee again.
- Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) fee – You will need to pay a fee of £199 each time you assign a CoS to a worker. This fee is the same for all sponsors, irrespective of size or charitable status.
- Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) – The ISC must be paid for each sponsored worker you recruit, unless an exemption applies. For medium or large sponsors, the ISC is £1,000 for the first 12 months of employment plus £500 for each additional 6-month period. For small or charitable sponsors, it costs £364 for the first 12 months of employment, plus £182 for each additional 6-month period.
It is worth noting that the above sponsorship fees must be paid by the sponsoring employer and cannot be passed onto the migrant worker.
Visa application fees
The Home Office charges a reduced application fee for Health and Care Worker applicants compared to some other categories such as the Skilled Worker route.
The Health and Care Worker visa application fee varies depending on the length of time listed on the CoS. Where a CoS has been issued for three years or less, it costs £247. Where a CoS has been issued for over three years, a higher fee of £479 applies.
If the main applicant wishes to bring any dependant family members to the UK with them, the same application fee must be paid for each accompanying dependant. Health and Care Workers and their dependants are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
Although it is usually down to the visa applicant to pay the application fee for themselves and any accompanying dependants, some employers opt to cover some or all of this cost on behalf of their employees. For example, you may agree to pay the full visa fee for your employees, but choose not to support dependants.
Rather than making such decisions on a case-by-case basis, it is advisable to have company-wide policies in place which set out the specific circumstances in which immigration fee support will be offered to employees, to ensure a consistent approach. Smith Stone Walters can offer support to your business in developing a tailored immigration programme.
The total amount it will cost to bring a care worker to the UK depends on a number of factors we have touched on above, including the size and nature of your business, how long you intend to sponsor the worker for, and whether they will be bringing any family members with them.
To highlight the potential difference in cost, we have set out two case study examples below.
Case Study 1:
A small sponsor wishes to hire a care worker on a one-year visa. The applicant has no dependants.
- Visa application fee: £247
- Immigration Skills Charge: £364
- CoS fee: £199
Total Home Office fee = £810
Case Study 2:
A medium sized sponsor wishes to hire a care worker on a five-year visa. The applicant will be bringing her spouse and two children to the UK as her dependants.
- Visa application fee: £1,916
- Immigration Skills Charge: £5,000
- CoS fee: £199
Total Home Office fee = £7,115
Additional costs to consider
Alongside the sponsorship and visa application fees outlined above, sponsors and visa applicants should be prepared for additional costs to crop up during the recruitment process. These may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Tuberculosis (TB) test – If the applicant is applying for their visa from overseas and is resident in a listed country, they may need to take a TB test. Tests must be booked directly with a Home Office approved clinic and therefore costs may vary depending on the applicant’s location.
- English language test – Applicants may be required to prove their knowledge of English by taking a Secure English Language Test (SELT) with an approved provider, unless this was done in a previous successful application. Again, tests must be booked with a Home Office approved provider and therefore costs may vary.
- Maintenance funds – Unless an exemption applies, Health and Care Worker applicants will usually need to show that they have at least £1,270 available to support themselves in the UK. Sponsors can choose to provide this on behalf of their employees by completing the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section on the CoS.
- Priority processing fees – If the applicant requires an expedited decision on their visa application, you may wish to utilise the Home Office priority services at an additional cost, where these services are available.
Download our free guide
If you’d like to know more about recruiting care workers from overseas via the Home Office sponsorship routes, we’d be delighted to help. To speak to an immigration advisor today, please call us on +44 (0) 208 461 6660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also download our free guide here.