22 October 2021 #Immigration
Skills for Care, the employer-led strategic body for workforce development in social care for adults in England, has recently published a report highlighting the increasing number of vacancies in the adult social care sector. As of August 2021, vacancies in the care sector have returned to pre-pandemic levels, with 8% of all posts (more than 100,000 jobs) remaining unfilled.
Brexit, the end of the EU Settlement Scheme, and the Covid-19 pandemic have not helped the situation, making it increasingly more difficult for organisations to retain their nurses and care staff on a long-term basis. This is inevitably having a knock-on effect, reducing the number of available beds in NHS hospitals due to the rising number of hospital patients unable to be discharged to care homes due to the lack of care staff.
To alleviate the shortage of nurses and care workers in the UK, health and care organisations have the option to apply for a Worker sponsor licence to fill their vacancies with overseas staff under the Health and Care Worker route. To be eligible, an organisation must be an approved UK health and care sector organisation registered to provide adult social care. Nurses, auxiliary nurses, nursing assistants, health care support workers, senior carers, senior care assistants, and nursing team leaders are some of the occupations eligible for sponsorship under the Health and Care visa route.
There are salary requirements for sponsored nurses and care workers, with the minimum being the higher of £25,600 per year or the ‘going rate’ for the job, however roles which fall under the ‘shortage occupation’ category (e.g. senior care workers) can be paid between 70% and 90% of the going rate so long as the annual salary is at least £20,480 per year. A shortage occupation role is a skilled role where there is a shortage of that particular skill in the UK. There are also reductions in visa application fees for sponsored workers who will be performing a shortage occupation role in the UK.
The application process for a Worker sponsor licence is highly technical, with no room allowed for error. The non-refundable Home Office application fee is £536 for small organisations and £1,476 for medium to large businesses. A flawed or incomplete sponsor licence application may still be approved, but could result in the licence being rated with a B-rating instead of an A-rating, which prevents an organisation from being allowed to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for an overseas worker.
The Clarkslegal UK Immigration team will guide your organisation through the convoluted process of applying for a sponsor licence to recruit and employ migrant workers. Our services include advising on the drafting of job descriptions for sponsored roles, the most appropriate Occupation Codes, salary requirements, and assigning the CoS, which will accompany the visa application.
We advise on and compile the necessary documents in support of the visa application, draft and submit the visa application form, draft bespoke detailed legal representations in support of the visa application, liaise with our senior Home Office contacts following submission of the application should there be any delays in processing/further information required, arrange the biometric appointment at the overseas UK visa application centre, and advise of the outcome of the application and the required steps for entering England to comply with Covid-19 travel regulations and the Immigration Rules.