Plans to limit care visas to 12 months will act as ‘major deterrent’ to overseas workers, lawyers warn

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Overseas care workers will not give up their jobs to come to the UK only to be removed from the country a year later, social care lawyers at Royds Withy King have said.

The government announced on Christmas Eve that it has made care workers eligible for the Health and Care Visa and placed them on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) for a 12-month period.

But legal experts have warned that limiting visas to 12 months will act as a ‘significant deterrent’ to overseas workers and urged the government to extend the visa duration to help solve the workforce crisis.

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Olivia Coles, Employment Law and Immigration specialist at Royds Withy King, commented: “The decision to add social care workers to the Shortage Occupation List following recommendations by the Migration Advisory Committee is welcomed. Care providers will soon be able to recruit care workers, support workers and home care assistants from outside the UK to help ease the staffing crisis.

“Yet the decision to impose a 12-month limit makes no sense. Care providers are likely to struggle to persuade overseas care staff to give up their jobs, relocate to the UK and source accommodation in a supercharged rental market, only to be removed 12 months later.

“The Social Care sector will need 490,000 new workers over the next 15 years if it is to continue to provide the care and support society requires. That represents a 29% increase in the number of people employed by the sector today. Care providers, whilst welcoming this decision, will also need longer-term solutions to resolve this long-standing staffing crisis, which the Government has consistently failed to provide.”

Care providers looking to recruit overseas staff will need to pay care workers, support workers and home care assistants a minimum of £20,480 a year to qualify and will need a sponsor licence. Sponsor licences are given by the Home Office and can take upwards of two months to process.

Coles added: “Care providers that already have a sponsor licence will be able to recruit from overseas as soon as the measures take effect, with the fast-track visa application process taking typically just three weeks.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The care sector is experiencing unprecedented challenges, and adding care workers to the list of eligible occupations for the Health and Care visa will bolster the workforce and help alleviate some of these pressures.

“It is wrong to say this is a one year offer of employment. Care workers can apply for a visa to stay for up to five years – the same as any other Health and Care visa holder – should they remain employed and wish to remain in the UK. They will also be able to bring their dependents, including partner and children with them.”

Tags : health and care visaimmigrationRoyds Withy Kingshortage occupation list
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke