Home » How to Sponsor a Senior Care Worker – Recent Changes and What You Need to Know

How to Sponsor a Senior Care Worker – Recent Changes and What You Need to Know

March 30, 2021,
Michelle Lee,

Senior Care Workers were added to the Shortage Occupation List earlier this month, giving their sponsors an important immigration advantage.  Read on below to find out what this means for you if you are recruiting Senior Care Workers from overseas.  There’s also an FAQs section which you might find helpful.nca logo

Remember: as of 1 January 2021, EU nationals can no longer come to the UK under freedom of movement.  If you’re looking to recruit from Europe and your new hire wasn’t in the UK before 31 December 2020, you will need to sponsor them in the same way as a non-EU national. You will need a Skilled Worker sponsor licence (formerly known as a Tier 2 sponsor licence).

If you need more information about sponsoring Senior Care Workers or sponsorship in general, see our Legal Guide to Applying for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence, available for free here.  We believe it’s the most comprehensive guide out there.

The Immigration Team at Truth Legal are experts in advising sponsors, from the application stage through to compliance and Home Office inspections.  Contact us today for specialist advice tailored to your requirements.

What is the advantage to me as a sponsor now that Senior Care Workers are on the Shortage Occupation List?

The minimum salary requirement is lower.

The headline is that you will need to pay your migrant Senior Care Worker an annual salary of at least £20,480.  This is a significant saving on the minimum salary threshold for jobs not on the Shortage Occupation List, which is usually set at £25,600.

The full explanation:

Among the most important of the sponsor licence requirements is that the migrant worker’s annual salary be the higher of either:

  • £25,600, known as the general minimum threshold; or
  • the going rate for the job category.

Let’s apply this to Senior Care Workers.  Going rates are listed at Appendix Skilled Occupations, which tells us that the going rate for Senior Care Workers is £16,900.  This is lower than the general minimum threshold, so ordinarily you’d need to be paying your Senior Care Worker the general minimum threshold of £25,600, unless they were a new entrant.

Here’s where the Shortage Occupation List comes in.  When a job is on that list, the general minimum threshold drops to £20,480 and the going rate is reduced by 20%.  So, thanks to the Shortage Occupation List, you now need to pay your migrant Senior Care Worker the higher of either:

  • £20,480, the reduced general minimum threshold; or
  • 80% of the going rate for the job category.

We know that the going rate for Senior Care Workers is £16,900, and 80% of that is £13,520.  This is still lower than the reduced general minimum threshold, and so we’ve landed back at our headline: thanks to the Shortage Occupation List, you need to pay your migrant Senior Care Worker an annual salary of at least £20,480.

A quick note on new entrants:

There are various ways to meet the definition of a ‘new entrant’, but the most common are where the person is aged under 26 at the time they apply for their Skilled Worker visa, or they are a recent graduate.  Sponsors must pay new entrants the higher of either:

  • £20,480, the reduced general minimum threshold; or
  • 70% of the going rate for the job category.

£20,480 is higher than 70% of the going rate for Senior Care Workers, so this won’t affect the sponsors of Senior Care Workers too much.


Does being on the Shortage Occupation List make visa fees cheaper for migrant Senior Care Workers?

Generally yes, if a job is on the Shortage Occupation List then the visa fee for the individual is much cheaper.

However, Senior Care Workers are eligible to apply for the new Health and Care Worker Visa.  This comes with an even better discount than Shortage Occupations: see the visa application fees comparison table below.

  Skilled Worker Shortage Occupation Health and Care Worker
Visa length: up to three years £610

(£704 if the applicant is in the UK)

£464 £232
Visa length: more than three years £1,220

(£1,408 if the applicant is in the UK)

£928 £464

How much does sponsorship cost?

There are various costs associated with sponsorship.

For you as the sponsor, the cost of a sponsor licence is £536 for a small company or £1,476 for a medium/large business.  You will need to pay £199 for a Certificate of Sponsorship, to sponsor one individual.  You usually also need to pay something called the Immigration Skills Charge, which is £364 per year per sponsored individual for a small business, or £1,000 for a medium/large business.  You may be exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge if your migrant Senior Care Worker is on a student visa and completes their degree.

For the individual, there is the visa application fee.  We’ve already talked about how Senior Care Workers will benefit from a reduced fee when they apply for the Health and Care Worker Visa.  And there’s more good news for individuals: applicants for the Health and Care Worker Visa are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge (normally an eye-watering £624 per year!)  This can save your Senior Care Worker thousands of pounds.

For detailed information about fees for both sponsors and individual migrants, take a look at our guide.

As a sponsor, do I need to advertise for the position?

Normally you do but it’s certainly less of a headache than it used to be.

Until recently, you had to demonstrate that no settled worker met the requirements of the job before you could recruit from overseas.  A ‘settled worker’ is a British person, a person with indefinite leave to remain or someone with settled status.

To demonstrate this, you had to run something called the ‘resident labour market test’, which was a lengthy recruitment exercise essentially prescribed by the Home Office.

Thankfully, the resident labour market test has been abolished.

However, there is still a general expectation from the Home Office that you will advertise for the position before you can offer your job to a non-settled worker.  Home Office guidance states that if you did not advertise the role, you must be able to explain both why you did not advertise and how you identified that the individual was suitable for the role.  If the person previously worked for you then this could be a good reason not to have to advertise.

So the bottom line is: unless the person has already worked for you, you need to advertise for the position and keep specific evidence of the recruitment process.  If you do run a recruitment process, you have a bit more freedom to decide what it looks like, as long as you’re confident that it will be acceptable to the Home Office.  This is a tricky area and one which you should give special consideration to.  We cover this in more depth in our detailed guide.

So how do I apply for a sponsor licence?

It’s complicated.

The best place to start is our free guide.  For detailed advice based on a thorough understanding of your situation, contact us here.


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