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The Skilled Worker visa and Health and Care Worker visa both allow skilled foreign nationals to come to the UK to work here, but which one should you apply for? The Skilled Worker visa, which replaced the old Tier 2 (General) work visa, is intended for a wide range of skilled occupation types, including some healthcare roles. The Health and Care visa is specifically for those in health and care roles but only for those with a job in the NHS, organisations providing medical services to the NHS, and those providing adult social care. As you can see, if you work in the health and care sector, the choice between the two visas is not immediately obvious. In this article, we will help you to understand the finer differences between the UK Skilled Worker Visa and the Health and Care Worker Visa and which one you should apply for based on your circumstances.

Comparing the eligibility criteria

The UK Skilled Worker Visa and the Health and Care Worker Visa share certain points-based eligibility criteria; specifically, applicants must:

  • Have an offer of a job from a licenced sponsor (and have a Certificate of Sponsorship)
  • Have an eligible job
  • Have the qualifications and skills to perform their job
  • Meet the financial requirements (i.e., receive a minimum level of salary)
  • Meet the English language requirements – applicants must be able to read, write, speak, and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

To understand the differences between the eligibility criteria, we need to look closer at some of these requirements:

Skilled Worker visa Health and Care Worker visa
Have an offer of a job from a licenced sponsor (and have a Certificate of Sponsorship) You must have a job offer from a licenced sponsor on the list of Skilled Worker visa approved employers You must have a job offer from a licenced sponsor on the list of approved UK health and care sector employers. Note, if you have a health and care role that is not with the NHS, an NHS provider, or an organisation providing adult social care, you may be able to apply for a Skilled Worker visa.
Have an eligible job Your job must be on the Home Office’s list of Skilled Worker visa-eligible occupations Your job must be on the Home Office’s list of Health and Care Worker visa-eligible occupations
Meet the financial requirements (i.e., receive a minimum level of salary) You must receive a salary of at least £25,600 per year, £10.10 per hour, or the going rate for your occupation. If you have a job on the shortage occupation list, you are under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training, you may be able eligible for a lower salary threshold (you must have a salary of no less than £20,480). You must receive a salary of at least £20,480 or the going rate for your profession.

Comparing the costs, conditions, and benefits

Under the current immigration rules, the Skilled Worker visa application fee ranges from £625 to £1,423, depending on the duration of your visa and whether you are applying from inside the UK or outside. Skilled Worker applicants must also pay the healthcare surcharge (to access the NHS) at a cost of £624 per year. The Health and Care Worker visa is considerably cheaper, with an application fee of £247 per person for up to 3 years and £479 per person for over 3 years, and no healthcare surcharge.

Both visas allow holders to stay for up to 5 years and then either extend their leave or apply for permanent settlement (ILR). Those with ILR can apply for British citizenship after a further 12 months.

Wrapping up

If you are considering applying for a Skilled Worker visa or Health and Care Worker visa in 2022 or 2023, we recommend checking which visa is best for your needs. This is especially so if you have a role in health and care, as considerable savings can be achieved by applying for a Health and Care Worker visa.

Garth Coates is a leading niche immigration firm based in the heart of London, specialising in all forms of personal and business immigration, including visas, global mobility, sponsorship and compliance, settlement, and citizenship. To discuss your Skilled Worker or Health and Care Worker visa matter, please contact one of our friendly and approachable immigration Solicitors on Tel: +44 (0)20 7799 1600 or by completing our online contact form.

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