Skilled-worker immigration cap to affect availability of nurses and health and care professionals

Simon Kenny
Simon Kenny

June’s allocation of restricted Tier 2 visas, which allow entry of skilled migrant workers into the UK has been reached this month and could potentially affect the NHS, as well as health and care organisations outside of London that rely on this workforce, warns head of immigration, Simon Kenny of Moore Blatch.

The Tier 2 application process, which works on a points based system, has an annual cap of 20,700. On a monthly basis there are approximately 1,700 Certificates of Sponsorship available and where more applications are received than points available, those with the highest points will qualify for entry.

Priority is given to roles that are on the shortage occupation list (scoring 75 points), roles requiring a PhD which are in a research field (scoring 50 points) and then roles where a resident labour market test has been carried out (30 points). As well as this, points are also scored based on the salary the role attracts, with higher salaries attracting more points.

In June the minimum qualifying mark was 50 points to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship. This meant that if those applying did not fit into the priority category, applicants would need a salary of £46,000 and above to enter the UK and work.

Simon comments: “This is most likely to affect the NHS, as well as health and care organisations outside of London that rely on skilled workers with salaries lower than £46,000, many of whom will be nurses, who will have had their permission to work refused in June.”

It is predicted that the cap in July will also be reached; for businesses in London that are able to offer higher salaries there is likely to be less effect, but outside of London, there could be a shortage of many skilled workers which will effect services to people in need of urgent medical and community care.

“The Government came under considerable pressure during the election campaign to ensure that future immigration targets they committed to were met – whilst this is being followed, there does seem to be an inherent bias in the points based system, which could see the NHS and other health and care organisations outside of London missing out on key workers and must be reviewed as a matter of urgency,” concludes Simon.

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