Visa requirements for working in the UK

The visa you need to work in the UK will depend on the specific role you have and where you intend to work.

A pen lies across a paper application form for a visa

General advice on visas and immigration

If you are not a British citizen you will need to apply for a visa from the UK Visas and Immigration Department before you can enter and work in the UK.

If you are a physiotherapist or allied healthcare professional who is new to the UK, and seeking advice on immigration issues, make sure you consult an immigration advisor who is accredited by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).

You can find out whether an immigration advisor is OISC-accredited by using the OISC Advisor Finder tool. 

For the latest guidance on the UK's immigration rules, check the Visas and Immigration page of the UK Government website.


Refugee healthcare professionals in the UK

The NHS employers website provides information on refugee health care professionalsin the UK.

If you are a refugee healthcare professional you do not need to pay an application fee when registering with the HCPC.

Working in the NHS as a physio

If you’re already in the UK on a Tier 4 (General) or Student visa, you will need to switch to the Health and Care visa. This visa is for protected NHS occupations – including physiotherapists – who are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge. 

If you are outside the UK, you must apply online for a Health and Care Worker visa.


Health and Care Worker visa

To qualify for a Health and Care Worker visa, you must:

  1. be a physiotherapist, other health professional or adult social care professional
  2. be able to speak, read, write and understand English
  3. have a confirmed job offer as a physiotherapist before you apply for your visa and:
  • work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the physiotherapist role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • be paid the general minimum salary threshold of £25,600 per year or the ‘going rate’ for your occupation. Physiotherapists currently fall within Band 5 of the NHS Pay Scales. As of 1 January 2021, the salary range for Band 5 is £24,907–£30,615.

Visa extension

The Home Office have announced that free one-year visa extensions will be automatically granted to eligible overseas health and care workers (including physiotherapists) whose visas were due to expire before 1 October 2021. To get the extension, you must:

  • have a visa that expires between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021
  • work for the NHS or an independent healthcare provider in an eligible profession.

The extension will apply from the date your visa is due to expire. You’ll need to extend your visa in the normal way. If you’re eligible, your family members may also be able to get a one-year extension.

For further information, check the Visa extensions for health workers during coronavirus page on the UK Government website.


Working in a non-NHS setting as a physio

If you are already in the UK on a Tier 4 (General) or Student visa, you will need to switch to the Skilled Worker visa which allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer.

To qualify, you must demonstrate that:

  • you’ll be paid the minimum salary or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work you’ll be doing – whichever is higher. Current starting salaries for qualified physiotherapists (Band 5) range from £24,907 to £30,615.
  • you’ll be working for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office.

Working in the UK as a physio support worker

Under the current immigration rules, physiotherapy support workers/assistants are not eligible to work in the UK because the annual NHS salary for this role falls below the minimum salary threshold.

The CSP is continuing to lobby the UK Government to review its position on the eligibility of physiotherapy support workers/assistants to work in the UK.


Additional sources of support

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