The UK Government has finally acknowledged that workers from overseas can help to address the current critical shortage of care assistants and home care workers. Up until now, it was possible to employ Senior Carers who had management responsibility, but not those below this grade.
From 15 February 2022, the list of jobs that can be filled by workers from overseas will include Care Workers. These jobs are also on the shortage occupation list which allows employers to pay a lower salary than would normally be required.
These are the job titles which will be added to the list of eligible occupations for overseas workers:
Care Assistant, Care Worker, Carer, Home Care Assistant, Home Carer and Support Worker (Nursing Home).
This means that overseas Care Workers and Home Care Workers will soon be eligible to apply for a UK Health and Care Worker Visa. This route is temporary but is likely to be in place for at least 12 months. Employers in the social care sector will breathe a sigh of relief perhaps. However, they will need to follow government rules by obtaining a Sponsorship Licence which enables them to employ overseas workers. The jobs must be genuine and there is a minimum salary requirement of £20,480.
Employers can now apply for a Licence if they do not already one. This is somewhat bureaucratic but the government are trying to streamline the process. Once in place, the employer can start hiring from abroad. The employer will need to ensure that it sticks to the rules and fulfils its duties as a Sponsor of overseas workers.
Once the employer has found qualified candidates, it will appoint them and issue a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’ to each employee. The employee will then use this electronic document number to apply for permission to enter the UK as a Skilled Worker on the Health and Social Care route.
The whole exercise will obviously take longer than the normal recruitment process within the UK, especially if the employer needs to apply for a Sponsorship Licence. This can take up to 8 weeks or 10 working days if the employer uses the priority service. However, once the Licence is in place, the employer just needs to identify the relevant candidates who will then apply from their home country. The decision on this application takes around 3 weeks. It may take less time than advertising without success in the UK.
There are extra costs involved. There is a fee for the Licence and a fee for the employee’s application to enter the UK. Care assistants and home care workers can bring their dependent children and partners to the UK for an extra fee.
The Home Office has also clarified that, in line with other care-related occupations, care workers will need to provide a criminal record certificate from any country they have been present in for 12 months or more in the previous 10 years, and while aged 18 or over.
If employers do not already hold a Sponsorship Licence, they can apply before 15 February 2022.
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