The healthcare sector is growing in the UK and companies are bringing in workers from outside to fulfil their requirements. Companies in the UK need a sponsorship licence to be able to employ overseas workers.
In this guide, we will outline the process for obtaining a sponsor licence for businesses in the healthcare industry in the UK. We will also discuss the sector-specific nuances involved in the process, including the roles that can be sponsored, the minimum salary requirements, and the types of visas that can be sponsored. We will also discuss the benefits of having a sponsor licence, as well as the common reasons for sponsor licence application refusals in the healthcare sector.
What is a Sponsorship Licence?
A Sponsorship Licence is a legal document that allows a UK business to sponsor and employ non-British nationals. Having a valid licence allows employers to attract and retain quality staff, helping them build a diverse workforce that can help boost innovation and productivity in their business.
It grants permission for UK employers to bring overseas workers into the UK, provided they meet certain requirements and criteria. The licence allows employers to recruit non-British citizens for a range of roles including doctors, nurses, IT professionals, chefs, teachers and more.
In order to obtain a sponsorship licence, applicants must demonstrate that they are a genuine business or organisation, as well as meet other requirements, such as providing suitable accommodation for their sponsored employees. A Sponsorship Licence is valid for four years and can be renewed if necessary.
What are the benefits of having a Sponsorship Licence?
Having a Sponsorship Licence is beneficial for businesses in the healthcare sector, as it allows them to recruit and employ international talent that may not be available in the UK workforce. This means that the business can fill any gaps in their skillset and expand their workforce to include professionals with specialist knowledge. This can be especially important in the healthcare industry, where there may be shortages of certain skilled workers, such as doctors or nurses.
Second, a sponsor licence gives businesses the flexibility to sponsor workers for short-term assignments or training, which can be useful for businesses that need to bring in specialized expertise for specific projects or to provide training to their existing staff.
Finally, a Sponsorship Licence also gives businesses in the healthcare sector access to a wider talent pool, allowing them to tap into potential employees from all over the world. This can be a great advantage for businesses looking to add value to their business and grow their workforce.
Examples of businesses in the healthcare sector that may need a sponsor licence
1. Private hospitals and clinics
2. Pharmaceutical companies
3. Medical equipment manufacturers
4. Medical research organisations
5. Nursing and residential care homes
7. Home health agencies
8. Charities and voluntary organisations
9. Dental practices
Eligibility requirements for a sponsor licence
To obtain a sponsor licence, your business must meet certain eligibility requirements. This includes ensuring you are legally operating in the UK, have a valid UK address and the ability to maintain control of sponsored employees.
To qualify for a sponsor licence, your business must also demonstrate that it can provide suitable accommodation and employment conditions to sponsored staff. The Home Office will look at factors such as pay, working hours and health and safety standards to assess your suitability.
Additionally, sponsors must demonstrate that they are financially stable and have adequate funds to support the number of employees they wish to sponsor. If your business is associated with another organisation, both companies must fulfil all sponsor licence requirements before a licence will be granted.
Sponsors must also pass a fit and proper person test. The Home Office will look at the history of the directors and senior managers of the business and whether they have any criminal convictions, or if they are deemed not to be acting in the best interests of immigration control.
The Home Office also requires applicants to provide evidence that they have sound systems in place to ensure compliance with sponsor duties and immigration law. This includes having adequate policies and procedures in place for monitoring employee absences, complying with reporting requirements and carrying out effective document checks on employees.
Finally, the Home Office may need to conduct an inspection of your business premises before granting a sponsor licence.
Criteria for workers to acquire health and care worker visa
The workers should fulfil certain criteria for acquiring a health and care worker visa. In the healthcare sector doctors, nurses, psychologists, dentists, social workers, medical scientists, and paramedics are included in qualifying careers. Those applying for a work visa must be presently employed in a visa-eligible occupation. Following are some of the other criteria for applicants.
1. Mastery Of the English Language
The applicants for a work visa need to be able to read, write, speak and understand English. They will have to pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to prove their command over the English language.
Employees may be given exemptions from SELT under the following circumstances:
- They are a national of certain English-speaking countries
- They possess a degree or similar academic qualification that was taught in English.
- They are a dentist, doctors or health professional who passed an English assessment accepted by their profession’s regulatory body.
2. Financial Status
The employee will have to prove that his employer pays him a certain specified minimum salary. They will also have to provide proof of possessing a minimum amount of money to support themselves during their stay in the UK. If the employee is accompanied by dependents then they should have additional savings for each person.
Alternatively, the employer can certify the maintenance of the employees they are sponsoring. The employer can maintain and accommodate the employees during their first month in the UK. In such cases, proof of savings is not required.
How to apply for a sponsor licence
Applying for a sponsor licence can be a complex process. It requires healthcare facilities in the UK to meet certain criteria and demonstrate that they have sufficient resources and systems in place to comply with the UK immigration laws. Here are the steps to take when applying for a sponsorship licence:
- Determine if you meet the eligibility criteria: To be eligible to apply for a sponsor licence, you must show that you are a legal entity based in the UK, that you are responsible for the control and management of the sponsored roles and that you can provide valid references from two suitable sponsors who have previously sponsored similar roles.
- Create a Sponsor Management System: You will need to create a Sponsor Management System (SMS) which is designed to ensure that all applicants sponsored under the licence are compliant with UK immigration laws. This should include recruitment procedures, record-keeping and reporting requirements.
- Submit an application form: Complete and submit the appropriate application form for the type of sponsorship licence that you require. All applications must be accompanied by supporting documents including evidence of valid references, proof of identity, proof of address and financial documents.
- Pay the application fee: The application fee must be paid when submitting your application form. Fees vary depending on the type of licence being applied for.
- Wait for a decision: Your application will be assessed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and a decision will be made within 8 weeks. If successful, you will be issued with a Tier 5 Sponsorship Licence which is valid for 4 years.
Once you have obtained your sponsor licence, it is important to maintain compliance with all UK immigration laws. You must also comply with any obligations specified by UKVI or risk losing your licence.
Application Process for Health and Care Worker visa for Employees
If the employee is applying for a healthcare work visa from outside UK then the application must be completed online. The process for healthcare workers is the same as other skilled worker visa applications.
They will need to provide the following documents:
- Passport or any other proof of identity and nationality
- Certificate of sponsorship secured from the Home Office
- Adequate proof of proficiency in the English language
- Information about the job title, occupation code, annual salary, sponsor license number and business name
- Some additional documents may be required depending on the employee’s country of origin or job
The employee covers the costs of acquiring a care worker visa. The application fee depends on the following factors:
- The employee is applying from inside or outside the country
- The duration of the intended stay
- Whether they will be accompanied by family members
- The job is mentioned on the shortage occupation list
Health and Care Visa Processing Period
It takes around 3 weeks to get a decision back on the healthcare visa application. The timeframe may be reduced for people applying from the UK.
Other information regarding Healthcare Visas
- Dependents of employees: Family members can join the employees in the UK if they fulfil the criteria of eligible dependents.
- Extension of Visa: Visa can be extended for the employees and their family members. This is subject to the condition that they are employed in the same job and fulfil salary requirements.
- Switching positions within the organisation: If the employee is promoted or moved to another position after arrival in the UK, their visa has to be updated.
- Switching employers: The visa needs to be updated with the new employer details before the employee begins work in the new company.
What are the consequences of breaching the terms of a Sponsorship Licence?
The UKVI takes breaches of sponsorship very seriously and can take several steps against a sponsor, including suspending, revoking or downgrading their licence. A business may also face an unlimited fine if they are found to have breached its licence.
Other consequences of a breach can include the loss of sponsored staff members and bans on sponsoring any new staff for a certain period. This could have serious implications for the long-term success of a business.
Healthcare facilities need to be aware that any employees sponsored under the Sponsorship Licence are subject to immigration control and will be subject to deportation if they are found to be in breach of the terms of the licence.
To ensure compliance with the terms of a Sponsorship Licence, businesses should make sure they fully understand their obligations and responsibilities as a sponsor and make sure they follow all procedures correctly.
Roles that can be sponsored in a healthcare facility
There are a number of roles in the healthcare industry that are eligible for sponsorship. Some examples include:
- Doctors (SOC code 2211)
- Minimum salary requirement for new entrants: £41,158 per year
- Minimum salary requirement for experienced workers: £48,514 per year
- Nurses (SOC code 2212)
- Minimum salary requirement for new entrants: £30,371 per year
- Minimum salary requirement for experienced workers: £30,802 per year
- Allied health professionals (SOC code 3219)
- Minimum salary requirement for new entrants: £24,907 per year
- Minimum salary requirement for experienced workers: £30,371 per year
Other healthcare roles, such as physiotherapists, pharmacists, and dentists, may also be eligible for sponsorship. It is important to note that the minimum salary requirements for these roles may vary, and businesses should consult the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website for the most up-to-date information.
Other roles that can be sponsored include allied health workers, administrative and support staff, etc. Depending on the type of facility, other positions such as laboratory technicians, janitors, receptionists, accountants, and even IT technicians, consultants and research scientists may be eligible for sponsorship.
Before applying for a Sponsorship Licence, employers should also review their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the Home Office’s requirements for sponsoring roles. Finally, employers must be aware of the different types of visas that are available to sponsored employees and familiarise themselves with the relevant application procedures and deadlines.
What are the compliance requirements for holders of a Sponsorship Licence?
As a holder of a Sponsorship Licence, it is your responsibility to ensure that your business meets the immigration rules, and you are obligated to keep records and comply with reporting requirements.
First, it is important to make sure that you are keeping up to date with changes in immigration rules and regulations. This can be done by regularly checking the Home Office website for updates.
You must also ensure that you maintain accurate and up to date records of each sponsored worker’s immigration status. This includes keeping details such as the individual’s passport number, national insurance number, biometric residence permit, or visa details.
Additionally, as a Sponsorship Licence holder you will be required to periodically report any changes to a sponsored worker’s circumstances. This could include if they are absent from work for a long period of time, they cease employment with your organisation, or they leave the country.
Finally, it is important to be aware of the other responsibilities associated with sponsoring individuals. This includes ensuring that the sponsored workers have the right to work in the UK and monitoring any changes in their immigration status. If the employee’s immigration status changes, you must take action to ensure that the employee is legally able to continue working for your organisation.
Maintaining a sponsor licence
Once a sponsor licence has been granted to a healthcare facility, the licence holder needs to maintain the requirements of the licence to remain compliant. This includes meeting the record-keeping and reporting obligations set out by UKVI, including keeping records of all sponsored workers and reporting any changes to their circumstances.
This includes regularly checking that all sponsored employees are meeting their requirements and not overstaying their visa or working outside of the conditions outlined in the licence. It is also important to review any changes to immigration rules and update the sponsorship management system accordingly.
Sponsors must also ensure they are keeping up-to-date records of all sponsored employees including details of when they entered the UK, any changes in their status, and when they leave. These records should be kept for a minimum of five years, even after an employee has left the organisation.
It is also necessary for sponsors to carry out the relevant right-to-work checks on all prospective employees before offering them a job. Sponsors must also inform UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if any sponsored employees fail to meet the terms of their visa or have been employed in breach of their licence conditions.
Sponsors must also ensure they adhere to their duty of care obligations towards their sponsored employees, ensuring that they are not subject to exploitation or underpayment and that they receive proper training and support. It is also important for sponsors to be aware of any new Home Office policies or changes that may affect sponsored employees.
Sponsors must ensure that all documents relating to their sponsorship activities are kept up to date and readily available for inspection by UKVI officers. Failing to comply with these requirements can result in serious consequences such as suspension or revocation of a sponsor licence.
Finally, businesses must be prepared to respond to requests for further information or audits by UKVI. It is important to respond promptly to these requests and provide any requested information in a timely manner to avoid any potential issues with the sponsor licence.
Common reasons for sponsor licence application refusals in the healthcare sector
There are several common reasons why a sponsor licence application for a healthcare facility may be refused.
- Lack of Documents: The most common reason for a sponsorship licence application refusal is the lack of necessary documents such as financial statements, insurance certificates, audit reports and training records. You must submit all the relevant documents as required by the Home Office.
- Inaccurate Information: If any of the information provided in your application is inaccurate or untrue, this will result in an application refusal. Therefore, it is important to provide accurate and up-to-date information.
- Insufficient Resources: Your healthcare facility must have sufficient resources to enable it to fulfil its duties as a sponsor. This includes having enough staff and training in place to manage a sponsored employee effectively.
- Unacceptable Practices: If you have previously employed or sponsored workers who have violated immigration rules or have been associated with human trafficking, exploitation, or other criminal activities, your sponsorship licence application may be refused.
- Non-Compliance: If you fail to adhere to the requirements of the sponsorship licence or do not comply with the UKVI’s guidelines and regulations, your application may be refused.
- Lack of sufficient evidence of the business’s financial standing: It is important for businesses to provide thorough and accurate financial information as part of their application, including financial statements or a business plan.
- Lack of adequate systems or processes in place to support sponsored workers: Businesses should be prepared to demonstrate that they have the necessary policies and procedures in place to support sponsored workers, including providing a safe and supportive work environment.
- Previous non-compliance with immigration rules: It is important for businesses to have a good track record of compliance with immigration rules, as any outstanding violations or fines may result in a refusal of the application.
By familiarising yourself with the requirements and ensuring that you meet them all, you can minimise the risk of a sponsorship licence application refusal for your healthcare facility.
Types of visas that can be sponsored in a healthcare facility
There are a few different types of visas that can be sponsored in a healthcare facility, depending on the needs of the business and the circumstances of the worker.
The most common type of visa for skilled workers in the healthcare industry is the Skilled Worker visa. This visa allows the worker to live and work in the UK for a specific period of time, usually up to five years.
Businesses in the healthcare industry may also need to sponsor workers for short-term assignments or training. This can be done through the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) visa, which allows the worker to come to the UK for a specific period of time to complete a specific project or training course.
Obtaining a sponsor licence is an important step for businesses in the healthcare industry in the UK that wish to recruit skilled workers from outside the UK. By following the steps outlined in this guide, businesses can ensure that they are eligible for a sponsor licence and have the necessary documentation and processes in place to support sponsored workers.
It is also important for businesses to be aware of the sector-specific nuances involved in sponsoring workers in the healthcare industry, including the minimum salary requirements, the types of visas that can be sponsored, and the common reasons for sponsor licence application refusals. By understanding these nuances, businesses can better navigate the sponsor licence process and ensure the success of their applications.
In all cases, all applicants must meet the requirements set out by the UK government, including English language proficiency tests, adequate accommodation and sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay in the UK.
How we can help
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