Health and Care Worker Coming to the UK

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As flu season and the coronavirus continue to put pressure on the National Health Service, health and care workers abroad may be considering a move to the UK to work. If this is something you are thinking about, thank you! You’ll be welcomed with open arms – once you’ve filled out all the paperwork…

In order to travel you will need to apply for a Health and Care Workers visa but, before that, you must secure an eligible job with either, the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care. 

The UK Government website will be able to tell you if you have secured an eligible job but basically you must:

  • Be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional
  • Work in an eligible health or social care job
  • Work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • Have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK 
  • Be paid a minimum salary. How much depends on the type of work you do
  • be able to speak, read, write and understand English and will usually need to prove your ability when you apply for this visa.

Duration of Visa

The visa can last up to five years before you need to extend or update it, either when it expires, or if you change jobs or employer.

You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements and, after five years, you may be able to apply to settle here permanently.

Applying from outside the UK?

You must apply online for a Health and Care Worker visa and you will need to provide:

  • your certificate of sponsorship reference number – your employer will give you this
  • proof of your knowledge of English
  • a valid passport or other document that shows your identity and nationality
  • your job title and annual salary
  • your job’s occupation code
  • the name of your employer and their sponsor licence number – this will be on your certificate of sponsorship

If your certificate of sponsorship was issued before 1 December 2020 it will need to be updated.

Additional evidence to support your application

You may also have to provide evidence that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK, proof of your relationship with your partner or your children if they’re applying with you, a test result for TB (certain countries only), a criminal record certificate (for certain jobs) and your UK PhD certificate or your unique UK NARIC reference number if your qualification is from outside the UK.

You will need a blank page in your passport for your visa if you’re:

  • from outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
  • from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein but do not have a biometric passport with a chip in it

If your documents are not in English or Welsh you’ll need to provide a certified translation.

Your partner or children will need to apply separately.

Proving your identity

You’ll need to prove your identity, but how you do that will depend on where you’re from and what type of passport you have.

You’ll either have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre or use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document. 

You’ll be told what you need to do when you apply.

Applying inside the UK and extending your current visa 

You can usually apply to extend your Health and Care Worker visa if you have the same job as when you were given your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK, or your job is in the same occupation code, if you’re still working for the employer who gave you your current certificate of sponsorship, or if you still meet the salary requirements.

The same conditions apply to Tier 2 Health and Care visas issued before 1 December 2020.

Inside the UK and switching from a different visa

If you want to change your job or employer, you must apply to update your visa.

When to apply

You can apply for a visa up to three months before you are due to start work. 

Once you’ve applied online, proven your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision within three weeks.

You, your partner or children will all need to pay the application fee. However, You will not have to pay the healthcare surcharge.

You cannot apply to switch to this visa if you’re currently in the UK:

  • on a visit visa
  • on a short-term student visa
  • on a Parent of a Child Student visa
  • on a seasonal worker visa
  • on a domestic worker in a private household visa
  • on immigration bail
  • because you were given permission to stay outside the immigration rules, for example on compassionate grounds

What you can and cannot do with this visa

You can:

  • work in an eligible job
  • take on additional work in certain circumstances
  • do voluntary work
  • study
  • bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years and meet the other eligibility requirements

You cannot:

  • apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
  • change jobs or employer unless you update your visa


At the moment, some health workers and their families can get their visas extended for free because of the coronavirus.


If you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, and if you or your close family started living in the UK before the 1st of January 2021, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.

Otherwise, you must apply for a visa.

(Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme)

If you’re not eligible for a Health and Care Worker visa you may be eligible for another type of visa to work in the UK.

For more information and assistance with your visa application, book an appointment with us here. Our experienced staff are here to help, and we will guide you through the visa application process.

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