Association of Mental Health Providers

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International Recruitment/UK Visa Sponsorship for Employers

Request for Information 

Can you please answer the following: 

a) Do you have an active UKVI Certificate of Sponsorship?
b) Or are you in the process of applying for a sponsorship license? 

Please let us know by emailing the team.

Why we would like to know: 

  1. The Association is aware that there are unscrupulous operators in this market, and we want to ensure that we can alert you to any scams.
  2. The Association have been contacted by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) who have issued a public call for evidence via the ICIBI website. They are particularly keen to hear from individuals from social care with lived experience of the health and care worker visa process.   

The inspection will be examining the following areas:  

  • the effectiveness and efficiency of the health and care worker visa route
  • the extent and quality of communication and engagement between the Home Office and the social care sector
  • the current suitability of the Home Office’s licensing system for health and care worker visa sponsorship
  • the effectiveness of the Home Office’s compliance requirements on sponsors, including how these safeguard employees from exploitation
  • the Home Office’s progress towards delivery of their transformation plan, ‘The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System Sponsorship Roadmap’ (published in August 2021) and the effectiveness of any implemented changes.

Responses are due by 11 September 2023 and The Association would like to respond on behalf of the VCSE mental health provider sector.  

If you have any specific feedback on the questions above or any additional information, please do send it to us by Thursday 7 September. 

If you would prefer to speak with Victoria to share any pressing concerns, please do email her directly.  

Background information on International Recruitment/UK Visa sponsorship for employers   

In February 2022, care workers became eligible for the Health and Care Worker UK Visa and were added to the Shortage Occupation List. This was an addition to Senior Care Workers who were made eligible in January 2021. 

As staffing levels have been at an all-time low post-Covid a number of our members have considered the UK sponsor license route to employ care staff to work with them from outside the UK. This now includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020. 

Becoming an international care worker sponsor takes time. The Home Office department for UK Visas and Immigration run the process of sponsorship licenses approval. The application can take up to 6 months from the time you begin a sponsorship license process to when you are notified that it has been successful. 

Once a care provider organisation is approved as a sponsor, this will be valid for 4 years and providers must fulfil certain duties, such as record keeping and reporting in order to maintain the sponsorship licence. These duties can be time-consuming so you will need to ensure you have the resource in your organisation to fulfil them.  

Rates of Pay for overseas workers and your obligations as a UKVI sponsor 

All international recruits you employ must be paid at least the required minimum salary of £20,960 or £10.75 per hour, whichever is higher. The minimum salary is based on 37.5 hours per week but will need to be higher if the individual is contracted to work more hours. 

You can read the full guidance on sponsorship duties from UKVI. The guidance outlines all the responsibilities for businesses employing overseas workers It also includes user manuals for the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). 

The Red list of countries where active recruitment is NOT permitted can be found here 

There is also Code of Practice for International Recruitment that applies to the appointment of all international health and social care personnel in the UK, including all permanent, temporary and locum staff.  

Once you have been granted a license you may find yourself being approached by an agency or recruitment company offering to pay you to take on staff. Please be very wary of these organisations.  

To support you an Ethical Recruiters list is available on the NHS website.  

The Association is working with Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England (NHSE) with the aim of making this easier for care providers.