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

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Free movement between the UK and the European Union ended on 31 December 2020. On 1 January 2021, the UK introduced a points-based immigration system.  This information will be reviewed and updated as arrangements are announced. 

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 professionals in 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 UK as a physio

If you are outside the UK, you must apply online for a Health and Care Worker visa which allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. This visa is for protected health occupations – including physiotherapists – who are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge. 

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.


Health and Care Worker visa

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

  1. be a physiotherapist, other health professional, or an adult social care worker
  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 has now ended free one year visa extensions to health and care workers. You will need to extend your visa in the normal wayYour partner or children will need to apply separately to extend their visa. They can either apply at the same time as you, or at any time before their current visa expires.

You can usually apply to extend your Health and Care Worker visa if all of the following are true:

  • you have the same job as when you were given your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK
  • your job is in the same occupation code as when you were given your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK. The code for a physiotherapist is 2221.
  • you’re still working for the employer who gave you your current certificate of sponsorship
  • you still meet the salary requirements

For further information, check the visa extension page on the UK Government website.

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.

International students

Most universities offer specific support for international students.

Additional sources of support

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