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Immigration Changes - How will they impact the healthcare sector?

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Visa Application Composition With Passport

​The implementation of measures aimed at overhauling the UK's legal migration framework, strengthening border security, and addressing unsustainable and inequitable migration levels will commence within a matter of weeks, as announced by the Home Secretary .

These actions follow the unveiling of a comprehensive set of reforms by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary in December, representing the most significant reduction in net migration to date and a concerted effort to combat exploitation within the immigration system.

The robust adjustments, designed to curb misuse of the migration system and ensure that individuals seeking to settle in the UK can do so responsibly, will begin to take effect as early as March. Consequently, approximately 300,000 individuals who arrived in the UK last year will find their ability to do so restricted.

The changes to the Health and Care Visa route, specifically impacting care workers and senior care workers. As of March 11, 2024, care workers (SOC 6145) and senior care workers (SOC 6146) migrating to the UK will no longer be able to bring dependents, and sponsorship for Health and Care Visa applicants will be limited to CQC-registered providers in England. These alterations do not affect individuals employed under other occupation codes on a Health and Care visa.

Additionally, salary threshold adjustments do not extend to the Health and Care Visa route, and holders of this visa will remain exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).

However, individuals requiring a general Skilled Worker Visa, sponsored by an NHS organisation but not under the Health and Care Visa scheme, will be subject to these changes, including the new salary threshold of £38,700 effective from April 4, 2024. Those already in the Skilled Worker route before the immigration rules change should be exempt from the new median salary levels upon changing sponsor, extending, or settling, provided they do not switch occupations.

Furthermore, as of February 6, 2024, those not exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge will see an increase to £1,035. Upcoming immigration rule revisions from March 14 will eliminate the 20 percent discount for occupations on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), replacing it with a new Immigration Salary List in early April. Family visa minimum income requirements will gradually rise, starting at £29,000 from April 11, incrementally increasing to £34,500, and eventually reaching £38,700 by early 2025. Only dependents with sufficient financial support will be permitted entry into the UK.

Below is a description of how these changes will impact various international staff across the NHS and social care

Health and Care Visa

  • Applies to professionals such as nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, etc., as detailed on GOV.UK.

  • This visa is a subtype of the Skilled Worker Visa, and candidates must specify their application for a Health and Care Visa during the application process.

  • The increased salary threshold does not affect recruitment to these roles, which can proceed as usual, with a minimum requirement of £20,960 or the national pay scale for the role.

  • Health and Care Visa holders will retain their exemption from the IHS and can still bring dependents to the UK as part of their visa, with dependents having the right to work in any sector, including employment with the NHS.

  • Sponsorship for Health and Care Visa applicants will be limited to CQC-registered providers in England, including trusts already registered.

Social Care

  • Applications for care workers (SOC 6145) and senior care workers (SOC 6146) received after 11 March 2024 will no longer be able to bring dependants to the UK as part of their visa.

  • Care workers and senior care workers already in the route will be able to remain with their dependants, including extending, changing employer (within these SOC codes) and settlement.

  • Where a care worker or senior care worker is in the route before the Immigration Rules change, but has not yet brought dependants, they will be allowed to bring dependants during their sponsorship (on this visa).

  • Individuals who are in the UK on any other route, including where that route permits dependants, who switch into the care visa as a care worker or senior care worker after this date, will not be able to stay with (or bring over) dependants.

  • The increased salary threshold does not apply. Recruitment to these roles can continue as normal (ie at least £20,960 or at least £10.75 per hour).

  • They will continue to be exempt from the IHS.

  • Only CQC-registered providers in England will be able to sponsor Health and Care Visa applicants.

  • Care providers who were sponsoring workers in exclusively non-regulated activities (and therefore not required to be registered with the CQC) before the rules change should be able to continue to sponsor these workers, including for extensions to their visa on those terms, but not hire new ones.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said:

“I’ve been clear that migration is too high and we must get back to sustainable levels. Last year I set out robust measures to reduce the numbers coming into our country – tightening the rules on care workers, skilled workers, and making sure that people can support their family members that they bring over.

“It is a firm approach, but a fair one, and gives those affected time to prepare whilst ensuring that migration comes down. The British people want to see action, not words. We are delivering the change we promised and which they expect, lifting pressure on public services and protecting British workers with the utmost urgency.”

Cost Effective Staffing Solutions

NursingjobsUK are an experienced recruiter of international nurses and care assistants, we understand the importance of staying ahead in an ever-evolving industry. We recognise the financial challenges faced by employers as a result of the recent changes to the immigration rules and the impact they might have on their ability to recruit overseas care workers effectively.

Our dedicated team is ready to assist you in navigating these changes and facilitating the recruitment of highly skilled overseas nurses and care workers that are already in the UK.

We have international healthcare candidates, already resident in the UK, immediately available for interview. Our in-country care assistants are typically students who have completed their studies and looking to switch from a Tier 4 visa to a Tier 2 visa. We act as a direct partner for over 20 Universities in the UK. Many of the students we've assisted also work in care assistant roles alongside their studies, bringing valuable experience to your organisation. Our in-country nurses already have their NMC pin.

Recruiting an international nurse or carer who is already in the UK offers several advantages compared to recruiting from overseas. These advantages include no associated costs, familiarity with the UK healthcare system, strong language and communication skills, cultural understanding, as well as retention and stability.

By engaging with us now, you can ensure a smooth transition and secure the talent you need before the new rules come into play.

For advice or support with your recruitment project, please complete our form or get in touch by calling 0203 4057168.

Enquirie here for cost effective staffing solutions

Details of the changes to the immigration system can be found on the GOV.UK website.

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