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As the United Kingdom grapples with a significant shortage of health and care workers, recent updates shed light on the country's efforts to address this crisis. In a groundbreaking move, the UK granted 77,700 long-term work visas to care workers, marking a six-fold increase from the previous year. Aspen Crown brings you a comprehensive guide to the UK's Health & Care Visa, exploring eligibility criteria, application procedures, and the benefits it offers to applicants and their dependents. 
The Urgent Need for Health & Care Workers: 
The UK is currently facing a severe shortage of health and care workers, with over 150,000 vacancies in the adult social care sector alone, accounting for nearly 10% of the country's vacant roles. Recognizing this crisis, the government has taken strategic steps to address the shortage by granting an unprecedented number of long-term work visas to care workers. 
The Rise of Health & Care Visas: 
In response to the growing demand for health and care workers, the government added senior care workers to the Shortage Occupation list in 2021, followed by care workers in February 2022. The numbers tell a compelling story, with 77,700 long-term work visas granted up to June 2023—a substantial increase from the 12,300 granted in the previous year. Notably, health and care visas now constitute a significant portion of all skilled work visas issued in the UK. 
What is a Health & Care Worker Visa? 
Introduced in August 2020, the Health and Care Worker visa enables medical professionals to come to or stay in the UK for eligible jobs within the British National Health Service (NHS), an NHS supplier, or in adult social care. This visa category plays a crucial role in addressing the shortage of skilled professionals in these vital sectors. 
Eligibility Criteria: 
The health and care worker visas are open to qualified adults in NHS clinics, hospitals, community services, and private health and care providers approved to employ overseas workers. To qualify, applicants must be qualified doctors, nurses, health professionals, or adult social care professionals with a job offer approved by the UK Home Office. 
Recognition of Degrees and English Proficiency: 
Applicants with degrees from Indian universities need to confirm the equivalence of their qualifications through Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC). Additionally, candidates must demonstrate English language proficiency, equivalent to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. 
Application Process: 
Applicants applying from outside the UK can submit their applications online through the official UK government website. The process involves proving identity, often requiring fingerprints and a photograph taken at a visa application centre in India to obtain a biometric residence permit. 
Fees and Financial Requirements: 
Several fees are associated with the Health and Care Visa, and applicants must demonstrate their ability to support themselves in the UK. The standard application fee ranges from £284 per person for up to three years to £551 per person for more than three years. Applicants are typically required to have at least £1,270 available as proof of financial support. 
Processing Time and Visa Validity: 
Once an online application is submitted with appropriate documents and identity verification, a decision is typically made within three weeks. The Health and Care Visa can last for up to five years and can be extended. Visa holders must apply for extensions or updates when their visas expire or if there are changes in their job or employer. 
Benefits for Dependents and Transition to UK Citizenship: 
Dependents, including partners and children, are entitled to benefits under the Health and Care Visa. After five years, visa holders may apply for settlement under the 'indefinite leave to remain' scheme, granting them the right to live, work, and study in the UK permanently. 
The UK's Health & Care Visa is not only addressing the critical shortage of skilled professionals in the health and care sectors but also providing a pathway for applicants and their dependents to build a stable and prosperous future in the country. Aspen Crown remains dedicated to assisting individuals through this process, ensuring a seamless transition and adherence to the evolving immigration landscape. For more information and guidance, feel free to reach out to Aspen Crown's Immigration Team. Stay informed and stay connected. 
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