The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) are currently in the middle of a commission investigating the impact of the ending of freedom of movement on the adult social care sector. In December 2021, they provided an update report that focused on their preliminary findings. In this report, the Committee made a key formal recommendation to the Government. Given the severe and increasing difficulties the social care sector is facing in terms of both recruitment and retention, the MAC felt that they had sufficient evidence to recommend that care worker jobs were immediately made eligible for the Health and Care Visa and placed on the Shortage Occupation List.
The full report is due by the end of April 2022, with the MAC continuing ongoing consultation and engagement activities. When published, the report will be used to advise the Government, provide recommendations and help with the development of an immigration policy for the United Kingdom.
This page contains information about the background to the points-based immigration system and useful resources about the changes to international recruitment of care workers in the UK.
Points-Based Immigration system
On 1 January 2021, the UK introduced a points-based immigration system. Under this new system, most non-UK resident workers must apply for a visa to come to the UK to work. The primary route is through the skilled worker route which features two key visas. The first is the new Skilled Worker visa. This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) visa. The second type of visa on the skilled worker route is the Health and Care Worker visa. The Health and Care Worker visa allows medical professionals to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care.
The Skilled Worker route has a shortage occupation list. This list features roles deemed by the UK Government to be in short supply within the UK resident labour market. Roles which feature on the Shortage Occupation List give individuals an advantage in obtaining a Skilled Worker visa. If a role is on the shortage occupation list and eligible for the Health and Care visa, the worker can benefit from a fast-tracked, reduced-fee visa. Both visas on the skilled worker route have associated costs payable by the applicant.
As an employer there are some key things that you will need to do to be able to hire workers from the shortage occupation list. They are:
- Become a licensed Sponsor
- Check that your job is suitable
- Sponsor a worker
- Pay the regular fees
Recruiting Care Workers and Home Care Workers from the Shortage Occupation List
From 15 February 2022, care workers and home carers will be recognised on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list. They will also become eligible to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa sub-category of the route. As the process of recruiting an overseas Front line Care Worker will not be familiar to many members, we have prepared a briefing to support you in preparation for the introduction date. The briefing provides information about how employers can recruit using the shortage occupation list and explains how the process works, what employers have to do, how much it costs and how long it will take.
Home Office, DHSC and Skills for Care Recruiting Overseas Care Workers Webinar
The Home Office, DHSC and Skills for Care have hosted a series of webinars entitled – Social Care: Recruiting an overseas care worker under the Points Based System. These webinars provided an overview of the points-based immigration system for the social care sector. They also featured sections on what the recent announcement means for international recruitment, how to ensure ethical international recruitment and examples of best practice from the social care sector.
The slides used during the 4 February 2022 event can be accessed here.
Skills for Care International Recruitment Resources
Skills for Care have a variety of resources on their website around the topic of international recruitment. The page features guidance from the Home Office and DHSC and it also features current examples of best practice from employers across a variety of settings.
Also included on this page are recordings from the virtual events held around the topic of international recruitment, including:
- Home Office – Social care: points-based immigration
- UK Visas & Immigration – How to apply for a sponsor licence
- International recruitment virtual event
Rapid Review of International Recruitment of Healthcare Workers
The NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce has published a rapid review of the evidence on ethical international recruitment of healthcare workers. The rapid review aimed to find evidence on threats to the ethical international recruitment of healthcare workers. The review describes some of the barriers and facilitators to ethical international recruitment. An important conclusion from the review is that international recruitment was a symptom, not a cause, of challenges to the health systems in sending countries.