Following Brexit, EU nationals who arrive in the UK from 1 January 2021 require a visa and possibly sponsorship to work. For care homes who relied on the free movement of EU nationals, this has led to a number of issues including, a shortage of workers in the UK. Alongside the changes for EU nationals at the start of 2021, a new points-based immigration system came into force. Key routes for sponsoring workers now include the Skilled Worker route and the Temporary Worker (T5) routes, such as Charity Workers.
Care homes facing work place shortages as a result of Brexit could consider obtaining a sponsorship licence in order to sponsor overseas workers. Immigration law is everchanging and we understand that the sponsorship process can be complicated. We have therefore summarised this process within the context of the care home sector below.
A sponsored worker must be assigned a relevant Standard Occupational Classification (a SOC Code). The SOC code system is used to classify skilled occupations in the UK and choosing the relevant SOC code is therefore an important step in the sponsorship process.
When considering potential routes to sponsorship for care home sector roles, employers may wish to consider the following.
SOC code 1242 is for residential day and domiciliary care manager and proprietors. The roles under this code could include:
- Care manager
- Day centre manager
- Nursing home owner
- Residential manager (residential home)
SOC code 6146 is for senior care workers. The roles under this code could include:
- Senior care assistant
- Senior carer
- Senior support worker (Local government: welfare services)
- Team leader (nursing home)
In order to apply for a Skilled Worker visa, an applicant must obtain the required 70 points. 50 points must be obtained from the mandatory requirements list and obtain a further 20 points under the tradeable points list which relate to an applicant’s salary.
The general rule is that an applicant’s salary will need to equal or exceed all of minimum requirements, that is £25,600 per year; £10.10 per hour, or the going rate for the occupation code.
However, if the salary offered is below the required amount, some applicants may be able to make use of the “tradeable points”, which allows them to gain the necessary 20 points in other ways. For instance, if a job is on the Shortage Occupation List, or if the worker is a new entrant to the UK, 20 points may be obtained and a lower salary offered.
By way of example, should the role of care manager under SOC code 1242 be selected, the going rate would be £26,700 (£13.17 per hour). As the role is on the Shortage Occupation List, a minimum salary of 80% of the going rate or £20,480 can be offered, whichever is higher. In this case, 80% of the going rate would be £21,360 (£10.53 per hour). The applicant would therefore obtain 20 tradeable points provided their salary meets or exceeds £21,360.
The new Health and Care Worker visa is part of the Skilled Worker route, therefore applicants must meet the requirements of that route.
In order to qualify for a Health and Care Worker Visa, an applicant will need to show that they are a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional who works or will work within one of the listed SOC codes which are within the general health and care sector. Both of the SOC codes above are included, therefore examples of suitable roles might include residential care manager (SOC code 1242) or senior support worker (SOC code 6146).
The Health and Care Visa aims to make it cheaper, quicker and easier for healthcare professionals to work in the UK.
The benefit of this route is that if an applicant is eligible for the Health and Care Visa, both the applicant and their dependants will automatically be exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge and pay a reduced application fee.
Only certain sponsors are able to provide sponsorship under this route - a full list of eligible sponsors is available in the UKVI guidance here. Types of employers include an NHS Trust, a person who is employed to provide regulated activities as prescribed in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and who is employed by an organisation registered with the care quality commission or a person employed by an organisation providing certain adult social care services.
An applicant must be paid a salary of at least £20,480 per year unless the ‘going rate’ for the job is higher than this. The ‘going rate’ depends on the specific occupation code and, where applicable, the various NHS pay bands. The ‘going rates’ for occupation codes can be found here. As above, tradable points may be available.
Whilst Brexit has presented issues in the care home sector, there are solutions available. However, it is important to note that with regards to sponsorship of workers, not all jobs will meet the required skill or salary level making them ineligible for sponsorship. If you have any questions or require any immigration support, please contact our Head of Immigration Julie Moktadir at JulieMoktadir@StoneKing.co.uk.