Last reviewed 12 January 2022

The Minister for Safe and Legal Migration has written to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) accepting its interim recommendation to add care workers and home carers to the Health and Care Worker visa and Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

In his letter, available here, Kevin Foster welcomes the fact that the social care sector has made good use of the new Health and Care visa since its introduction.

“I wanted to inform you,” he goes on, “that the Government has accepted the recommendation, including your recommended minimum salary level of £20,480.”

The expansion of the Health and Care visa and addition of care workers to the SOL is, Mr Foster explains, a significant step for the Government given that care workers and home carers would be the only occupations outside the RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework) level 3 eligible to use the Points Based System (PBS).

“The Government is making this decision in recognition of the exceptional situation faced by the care sector during the pandemic, and the strong evidence you provided to support the recommendation,” the Minister explains.

It is creating an initial 12-month time window whereby workers can apply for visas in this sector. This would be reviewed internally at a later stage in 2022 to determine the success of this change.

As it will need to amend the Immigration Rules, make changes to its IT systems and guidance and ensure caseworker readiness, the Home Office believes that these measures will come into force in February 2022.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Care setting managers will likely be pleased by this announcement, as it will help to alleviate the difficulties associated with widespread staff shortages in the sector. This being said, it’s important they have an effective recruitment strategy, including a clear process for completing right to work checks, to ensure they are fully compliant with working regulations.

Managers and HR teams may need to prepare for changes to right to work checks for international staff; specifically, the removal of manual checks of biometric residence cards, biometric residence permits and frontier worker permits.

From 6 April 2022, physical copies of these documents will not be acceptable forms. Instead, employers must use the Home Office’s online checking service.