09 October 2023
Understanding the impact of changes to the UK Health and Care Visa System on the adult social care workforce in England
New report identifies important areas of learning for practice and policy on international recruitment
International recruitment in health and social care has long provided opportunities for care providers and people looking to work in the UK and is one route to addressing workforce shortages.
In February 2022, the Health and Care visa was extended to include care workers, following the addition of this job role to the shortage occupation list. This change permits people from other countries to apply for work in the UK as a care worker with employers holding a sponsor licence.
Home Office figures report that the number of applications and Health and Care visas granted has steadily increased since care workers were added. Latest figures (June 2023) indicate that visas granted to care workers comprised about 50% of visas granted within the ‘Health and Care Worker’ visa category[i].
Today’s report, Understanding the impact of changes to the UK Health and Care Visa System on the adult social care workforce in England, Phase 1: The Visa Study, presents an insight into the experiences behind these figures, focusing on key stakeholder groups: internationally recruited workers, diverse care providers across England, legal/recruitment agencies and sector skills experts.
Drawing on interviews with 74 individuals undertaken between Spring 2022 and Spring 2023, the report identifies important areas of learning for practice and policy on international recruitment, including:
- the factors that determine whether care providers decide, or not, to become sponsors and recruit internationally, and internationally recruited care worker reasons for moving to the UK
- the channels and systems for international recruitment navigated by care providers and people looking for work in the UK
- how care providers and people looking for work in the UK meet and maintain Home Office / UK Visa and Immigration requirements
- the information and support sought for recruitment processes and immigration requirements, and the cost of this
- awareness and adherence to the Code of Practice which promotes ethical practice
- pastoral support, workplace induction and employment rights for people moving to the UK to work in the care sector
- the vulnerability of care workers to unethical practice, and safeguarding both care providers and care workers given the investment involved in international recruitment
- implications for home care, dependants, and those already in the UK on Health and Care visas
We are grateful to care providers, international care workers and dependants, brokerage agencies and sector experts who shared their views and experiences with us.
This work forms part of a programme of work on international recruitment within HSCWRU. Other projects include:
- Evaluation of the International Recruitment Fund for adult social care
- International Educational Partnerships
Kharicha, K., Manthorpe, J., Kessler, I., & Moriarty, J. (2023) Understanding the impact of changes to the UK Health and Care Visa System on the adult social care workforce in England, Phase 1: The Visa Study. London: NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, The Policy Institute, King's College London.
King's project page
Acknowledgement and disclaimer
This research was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme (Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce: Ref. PR-PRU-1217-21002). The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.