Overview

A Health and Care Worker visa allows medical professionals to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care.

If you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

If you or your family member started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.

The deadline to apply was 30 June 2021 for most people. You can still apply if either:

  • you have a later deadline - for example, you’re joining a family member in the UK who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for being unable to apply by 30 June 2021 - for example, you had an illness or were the victim of domestic abuse

Check if you can still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Otherwise you need a visa to work in the UK.

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

Eligibility

Your job

To qualify for a Health and Care Worker visa, 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

Check if your job is eligible.

You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa.

Knowledge of English

You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English. You’ll usually need to prove your knowledge of English when you apply.

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.

How long you can stay

Your visa can last for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You’ll need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer.

If you want to stay longer in the UK

You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.

After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’). This gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

How to apply

You must apply online.

How you apply depends on whether you’re:

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

You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible.

How long it takes

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship.

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents.

You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.

Getting a decision

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

You may be able to pay to get a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK.

How much it costs

You, your partner or children will each need to:

  • pay the application fee
  • prove you have enough personal savings

Check how much money you’ll need.

Healthcare surcharge

You - and your partner or children - will not have to pay the healthcare surcharge.

What you can and cannot do

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

If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Health and Care Worker visa.