Health and Care Visa: Everything you need to know

The Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care have announced the Health and Care Visa, creating a new fast-track visa route for eligible health and care professionals. This visa has been introduced as part of the skilled worker route of the new points-based immigration system.  This will provide fast-track entry, reduced application fees and dedicated support to individuals with a confirmed job offer in defined health professions; for a skilled role within the NHS; the social care sector or for those sponsored by the NHS.

Who can apply?

The Health and Care visa has been designed to attract the best and brightest from around the world.

In order to apply, you must be a qualified:

  • doctor
  • nurse
  • health professional
  • adult social care professional


The full list of eligible professions is:

2112 – Biological scientists and biochemists

2113 – Physical Scientists

2211 – Medical Practitioners

2212 – Psychologists

2213 – Pharmacists

2214 – Ophthalmic Opticians

2215 – Dental practitioners

2217 – Medical Radiographers

2218 – Podiatrists

2219 – Health Professionals not elsewhere classified

2221 – Physiotherapists

2222 – Occupational Therapists

2223 – Speech and Language Therapists

2229 – Therapy professionals not elsewhere classified

2231 – Nurses

2232 – Midwives

2442 – Social Workers

3213 – Paramedics

(Tier 2 Policy Guidance, Paragraph A3)

You can apply if:

  • you have a job offer from the NHS, an organization providing medical services to the NHS or an organization providing adult social care
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • your sponsor has told you that you are eligible for it

What do you need?

Applicants will need to meet all relevant criteria which include:

  • a valid Certificate of Sponsorship
  • evidence of an appropriate salary, which meets the relevant salary threshold
  • being able to provide evidence of knowledge of English language
  • sufficient personal savings when arriving in the UK
  • being able to demonstrate ability to travel and travel history over the preceding five years
  • valid tuberculosis test results (if from a listed country)
  • a criminal record certificate from any country where they lived for 12 months or more in the last 10 years, if working with vulnerable people

Employers will need to include a brief explanation in the Certificate of Sponsorship setting out how the employee will meet the Health and Care Visa requirement.

When can you apply?

The Health and Care has been made available for applicants from the 4th August.

The earliest you can apply for a visa is 3 months before your start date of work in the UK. The date you can start work is listed on your certificate of sponsorship. You should get a decision on your visa 3 weeks from the date you provide your biometric information. There are extra charges if you want a faster decision.

Immigration Health Surcharge

Those eligible to apply for this visa and their dependents will be exempt from having to pay the immigration health charge. Frontline workers in the health and social care sector who don’t qualify for the Health and Care visa will pay the immigration health surcharge but will benefit from a reimbursement scheme if they have paid this on or after 31 March. Immigration health surcharge payments by healthcare professionals on Tier 2 visas who have paid since 31 March 2020 are already being refunded by the UK government.

For health and social care staff outside the scope of the Health and Care visa reimbursement arrangements will start from 1 October in 6-month reimbursements.

(For detailed information regarding the Health and Care Visa, please visit:

Note: Foreign Medical Professionals will still need to pass the PLAB exam to qualify for a licence to practice in the UK.


Need to prove your level of English for immigration or work purposes, but you’re confused what English test to take? Before you make the decision, you need to decide which one works the best for you. To make things easy for you we’ve put together a quick guide to help you understand the difference between a general English exam and a profession-specific one.


IELTS is still considered as the gold standard is a broader and widely recognized test of the English language and not just workplace specific language. Thus, has a stronger impact on life in the UK outside of work. The topics and content covered will be more general and taken from a range of sources. Preparing for IELTS involves learning huge amounts of vocabulary on a wide range of academic subjects. Test takers should be prepared to read academic texts quickly and effectively, understand lectures and discussions, talk about abstract questions and give opinions in detail.

IELTS is much cheaper than OET and is available in more places. There are also more IELTS test dates available than OET. There are about 3 million IELTS test takers every year and only 25,000 OET takers. This means that there are far more preparation options for IELTS, ranging from a huge number of free options to online courses and private tuition. The range for OET is rather limited.

Something about IELTs that many students find frustrating is that if you fail one of the four skills, you have to take all four again. Whilst for the OET you will only have to repeat the part that you didn’t pass earlier so your entire progress isn’t all lost and you don’t have to start from scratch.

The reason some doctors prefer IELTS beyond just passing a test is because it enables them to speak English confidently outside of their work. This may prove useful especially if they want to aim for a different career trajectory at some point in the future. It may also be due to its broader recognition worldwide.  IELTS is recognized by universities, regulatory bodies, immigration authorities and companies in many countries around the world. This includes universities in non-English speaking countries where a course may be delivered in English. There are over 1,100 test centers in over 140 countries.


OET uses profession-specific content. It might come across as easier in some ways because it is more specific to healthcare. You can therefore make use of your healthcare knowledge, vocabulary and experiences. If you are a nurse or a doctor, you will be tested on things related to your profession. Due to its specificity, OET has a far higher pass rate. Preparing for OET involves learning a wide range of healthcare-related and profession-specific language. Health professional should therefore be able to follow, engage with and participate in a variety of clinical scenarios, as well as understand medical texts and talks.

OET is recognized by healthcare regulatory bodies and Higher Education healthcare educators, including those in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Dubai, Ukraine and Namibia. There are over 115 test centers in 40 countries.

As a doctor who may have prior experience speaking in English within a medical capacity rather than generally you may want to opt for OET. As the only English language test made specifically for the healthcare industry, it uses real healthcare scenarios. Test takers may feel more confident than an academic English test. Also, as OET replicates the types of communication skills you would need in an actual healthcare setting, it grooms you as a professional too.

Overseas doctors have long played crucial roles in the UK health services, with the number of foreign doctors joining the UK medical register increasing year on year. All foreign doctors wanting to practice medicine in the UK, whether a permanent or temporary move, need to register with the UK General Medical Council (GMC).

First things first, any international medical graduates wanting to apply for provisional or full registration with a license to practice medicine in the UK, need to have their primary medical qualification independently verified. This need for verification applies to graduates who fit into either of the following two categories:

  1. If you qualified at a medical school outside of the UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland or
  2. If you are a national of a country outside the UK, EEA or Switzerland and qualified at a medical school outside the UK.

Before you begin the verification process, it’s recommended that you create a GMC online account which will allow you to check if your primary medical qualification or postgraduate qualification is accepted in the UK. Once you have established that your qualifications are accepted in the UK, you will need to send them on to the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) for independent verification. ECFMG is a US based NPO with more than 30 years experience in primary source verification. EPIC (Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials) is the ECFMG’s online verification portal. The EPIC website gives clear instructions regarding how to use EPIC. Once you have created your EPIC account, you can upload the qualifications you want verified. During this step, don’t forget to select the GMC as the recipient of the EPIC report on your qualification verification outcome. ECFMG charges a fee in USD for their service. More information regarding fees is available on the EPIC website.

The next step is to establish whether you are required to write the Professional and Linguistics Assessments Board (PLAB) test which is a two part exam. The first part is a MCQ knowledge based exam and the second part a clinical assessment or OSCE. When your qualification has been successfully verified, you can book, using your GMC online account for PLAB Part 1 (PLAB 1). PLAB 1 can be taken at designated testing centres in the UK or a number of countries outside the UK. After passing Part 1, you can then apply for Part 2 of the PLAB test. PLAB 2 is an OSCE and takes place at the GMC training centre in Manchester in the UK. Once you have passed both parts of the PLAB test, you can apply to the GMC for registration with a license to practice medicine. As soon as this application is successful, you may start working in the UK. Please visit for more details.

Pass Medical Exams With PassMed

Exams booked and 4 months to prepare for the first step in reaching my dream of becoming a specialist. More than enough time but sufficiently short enough to apply some pressure to start studying and successfully pass medical exam. Or so I thought. The demands of work and ensuring that I spent the remainder of my spare time avoiding anything medically related meant that the first 2 months were not very productive.

I spent most of my time attempting to study sections in between work and calls and searching my network for any and all past papers. The second part I was more successful at and managed to get hold of and spend a small fortune photocopying a whole stack of past paper questions. Time seemed to disappear and with 1 month left I focused entirely on past papers. This was a fantastic way to learn what to expect and how to perform well in the actual exam. The most time-consuming part of this however, was having to refer to textbooks to substantiate the answers and gain a clearer understanding of why I was right or wrong.

In the end, it was all worth it just to see my name on the pass list and know that I’m one step closer to my dream. If Passmed had been available at the time, this would have made life 100x easier.

According to WHO, there is currently a global shortage of more than 7 million health workers, which could rise to nearly 13 million by 2035. Growing populations and access to medical education are just two factors creating the global shortage of healthcare workers compounded by natural disasters and health crises.

Health workers are inequitably distributed throughout the world, with severe imbalances between developed and developing countries. Even within countries, there is a lack of adequate staff in rural areas compared to urban areas. Sub-Saharan Africa faces the greatest challenges. While it has 11 percent of the world’s population and 24 percent of the global burden of disease, it has only 3 percent of the world’s health workers.

Sudden catastrophic events can quickly overwhelm local and national health systems already suffering from staff shortages or lack of funds. When the Ebola epidemic struck West Africa in 2014, the outbreak led to the death of 221 health care workers in Sierra Leone, further complicating already challenging health problems for women and children. With the current COVID 19 pandemic, healthcare workers on the front lines have been exposed and many have lost their lives. At least 90,000 healthcare workers worldwide are believed to have been infected with COVID-191.

Distribution of health workers by the level of health expenditure and burden of diseases, for WHO regions. (The size of dots is proportional to health expenditure)

Add to this the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the growing geriatric population – will generate a demand for 40 million additional health workers globally by 2030. This would require doubling our current global health workforce.

Health systems designed around hospitals and clinics need to shift focus towards preventive care and encourage a holistic health approach encompassing all socio-economic determinants of health.  This will help avoid unnecessary in-patient and emergency room visits and result in better health outcomes for the community at large.

Other challenges facing the healthcare workforce include gender inequality, poor distribution of skills, and inadequate training and recruitment. According to the WHO, globally only 30% of doctors are females and more than 70% of nurses are females2.  A balanced healthcare workforce that addresses the issue of gender inequity and ensures equal pay for work of equal value, a favorable working environment, and targets investments towards training the female workforce is needed now more than ever.

As per an OECD global survey, 79% of nurses and 76% of doctors were found to be performing tasks for which they were over-qualified3. Given the global evidence for the poor distribution of skills, we must rationally re-organize our workforce for effective management of high-burden diseases.

The development of strong frameworks to oversee medical education, health employment and migration of health workers can bridge this global shortage of healthcare workers. Concrete efforts are required in sectors such as recruitment, development, training, and retention of the health workforce in developing countries to make sure that the workforce is directly proportional to the population.



  1. Reuters. Over 90,000 health workers infected with COVID-19 worldwide: nurses group 2020 [updated 6 May, 2020.
  2. Organization WH. Global strategy on human resources for health: workforce 2030. 2016
  3. Britnell M. Human: solving the global workforce crisis in healthcare: Oxford University Press 2019.

Having troubles with remembering and learning new things? Check out our medical study tips that will help you better organize your learning process and successfully pass exams.

1. Study, Sleep, Repeat.

Sleep is almost as important as study time. It’s during this downtime that the brain strengthens new memories which means that there is a good chance we’ll remember whatever we review right before we sleep. Don’t bring your books to bed though, as this encourages bad study habits and subconsciously takes your bed from a sleeping haven to a study den. We have all attempted an all-nighter before but these have been linked to impaired cognitive performance and greater sensitivity to stress. So tuck in and get yourself some slumber time.

2. Space it out.

“Cramming” is often the weapon of choice and is actually a very effective way of passing exams. However much of what is learnt is forgotten in an equally short period of time. “Spaced repetition,” first described in the 1880s by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus is a far more effective way of retaining those golden nuggets of information. So instead of spending a week or two, dosed up on your energy supplement of choice, rather spend an hour a day going over smaller chunks of information and review them consistently over a longer period of time.

3. Be creative.

A lot of medical learning is didactic and the easiest way to remember those long lists of complications, signs etc, is to create your own memorable mnemonics. Passmed have added a few here and there to spark your imagination, however your own are often the best.

4. Change it around.

Change topics, location, or even the music you listen to whilst studying as this forces the brain to make new and stringer associations.

5. Test yourself

Testing yourself is one of the best ways to assess how prepared you really are. This is why Passmed has an exam mode which recreated time test like conditions.

We hope that these medical study tips will help you better learn new material, prepare and pass exams successfully.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]