The Home Office has released the first guidance on the new Health and Care visa for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. The Health and Care visa will be available from August 4, 2020 and will fall under the Tier 2 (General) category.
If you are an international nurse planning on relocating to the UK and joining the NHS soon, the new Health and Care Visa which will truly benefit you since you will be exempt from paying an Immigration Health Surcharge. The Home Office has further stated that decisions under this visa route will be fast-tracked.
Who can apply for the Health and Care Visa?
To be eligible for this new visa, applicants must be:
- applying for a Tier 2 (General) visa;
- filling a job that falls within a specified list of Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes; and
- employed by the National Health Service (NHS), an NHS-commissioned service provider or a social care provider listed in the Home Office’s Tier 2 guidance.
The exhaustive list of SOC codes that will be eligible for the new visa is as follows:
- 2112 – biological scientists and biochemists;
- 2113 – physical scientists;
- 2211 – medical practitioners;
- 2212 – psychologists;
- 2213 – pharmacists;
- 2214 – ophthalmic opticians;
- 2215 – dental practitioners;
- 2217 – medical radiographers;
- 2218 – podiatrists;
- 2219 – health professionals not elsewhere classified;
- 2221 – physiotherapists;
- 2222 – occupational therapists;
- 2223 – speech and language therapists;
- 2229 – therapy professionals not elsewhere classified;
- 2231 – nurses;
- 2232 – midwives;
- 2442 – social workers; and
- 3213 – paramedics
Immigration Health Surcharge Exemption
International nurses will be exempt from having to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. Instead, applicants entering the UK via this route will be provided with free access to the NHS and its services.
If a nurse who would qualify for a Health and Care visa is already in the United Kingdom under Tier 2 and has dependants who are joining them from abroad, the dependants can also benefit from the exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
To benefit from the fee reductions, the sponsor will need to provide a letter or email confirming information about the main applicant that would normally need to be provided in a CoS for the Health and Care visa.
Immigration Health Surcharge Reimbursement
Since March 31, 2020, Registered Nurses working in the health and social care sector have been exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Nurses who have paid the IHS on or after 31 March 2020 can get this amount reimbursed. This is true even if they do not qualify for the Health and Social Care visa.
Reduced Visa Fee
- A visa for up to 3 years costs £232.
- A visa for more than 3 years costs £464.
- The fee is the same whether you apply from inside or outside the UK.
- Your dependants will also pay the same amount.
Fast Track Entry
The Home Office plans to prioritise Health and Care Visa applications and has said that it aims to process these applications within three weeks of the biometric enrolment appointment. This is a significant reduction to the current timeframe for visa processing which can take between 8 and 20 weeks.
The UKVI have stated that there will be dedicated support available for Sponsors in case they face any challenges during the application process. Sponsors can contact UKVI’s specialist team for the new Health and Care Visa at the following email address: UKVINHSteam@homeoffice.gov.uk
Relocation to the UK
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