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 Confirmation of visa ban for care worker dependants
Immigration law

Confirmation of visa ban for care worker dependants



In announcing its five-point plan for immigration in December 2023, the UK Government made clear the care sector would be targeted in a bid to reduce net migration. Since the announcement in December, there has been a lot of uncertainty in the sector as to what the plans would look like in practice and how it would impact on care providers, their staff and their ability to deliver services. The Government has today (19 February 2024) published the statement of changes to the immigration rules which confirm the details of the changes which are due to come into force on 11 March 2024.

What’s changing?

From 11 March 2024, newly sponsored skilled workers under standard occupation codes (SOC) 6145 – care workers and home carers, and 6146 – senior care workers, will no longer be able to be joined in the UK by their dependants.

However, there are transitional provisions that will protect those individuals already in the UK as skilled workers, or those individuals who have made their skilled worker applications before the changes come into effect on 11 March 2024. To benefit from the transitional provisions, a skilled worker needs to have been granted permission to stay as a skilled worker, sponsored under SOC 6145 or 6146 under the rules in force before 11 March 2024, and must have held continuous permission to stay as a skilled worker in either or both of these SOC codes.

Furthermore, for sponsors in England, there will also be a requirement to be registered with the Care Quality Commission and carry out a regulated activity.

How will the rule changes work in practice?

Care providers will be keen to understand what these changes mean in practice from their current and prospective employees. Below we have set out various practical examples of the rules changes in action.

Scenario 1:

You have assigned certificates of sponsorship to prospective employees in SOCs 6145 and/or 6146. The workers have submitted their skilled worker visa applications before 11 March 2024. The applications remain pending on 11 March 2024.

If successful, will the applicants be able to be joined in the UK by their dependants?

Yes. Applications submitted before 11 March 2024 will be decided on the basis of the immigration rules in place on 10 March 2024. Care workers and senior care workers are permitted to be joined by their dependants where their applications were decided based on the rules in place on 10 March 2024.

Scenario 2:

You currently employ a number of skilled workers, some of whom are joined by their dependants in the UK. All are due to apply for an extension of stay in the UK under SOCs 6145 and/or 6146 after 11 March 2024. Will their dependants be able to apply for an extension of stay at the same time?

Yes. Your employees will be covered by the transitional provisions and will continue to be permitted to be joined by their dependants.

Scenario 3:

You are currently employing a worker with permission on the graduate route. They are in the UK with their partner and children who are dependants on their current permission. You are considering sponsoring their continued employment after their current permission expires.

Will the employee be able to be joined by their dependants if they switch to a skilled worker visa under SOCs 6145 or 6146 after 11 March 2024?

No. If your employee makes an application for permission to stay as a skilled worker on or after 11 March 2024, their dependants will not be able to apply to remain as their dependants. The fact that their dependants currently have permission to stay in the UK as dependants of the worker on a different visa route does not mean they will continue to qualify for permission as dependants under the skilled worker route.

What steps can your organisation take to mitigate any impact of these changes?

Organisations concerned about their ability to attract or retain workers as a result of these changes should consider whether they are able to bring forward recruitment plans for new starts or consider sponsoring existing workers to switch into the skilled worker route before 11 March 2024.

Should your organisation require advice and assistance to navigate these changes, please get in touch with a member of our immigration team.



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Call us for free on 0330 159 5555 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.