CSP secures victory on visas for physios – but continues to lobby for support workers

The CSP has welcomed changes to visa rules which should see more overseas trained physiotherapists able to work in the UK.


New immigration rules, announced today by the Home Office, are due to come into force from 1 January 2021.

The new rules will allow registered physiotherapists who have received a job offer in the UK, and are due to be paid at least the NHS rate for the role, to secure a work visa.

The CSP have been lobbying for easier access to visas because of high vacancy rates, growing demand for rehab and the disruption to UK training caused by Covid-19.

However, the CSP is disappointed the new arrangements do not apply to physiotherapy support workers.

CSP Policy director Rob Yeldham said: ‘I welcome the government acknowledging the need for easier access to visas for physios post-Brexit.

'But it is worrying that there is no viable route for most rehab support workers.

We will continue to argue their case and hope to secure a change

New rules for international students

The changes will also see the end of the health surcharge applying to healthcare workers. From 1 January the new rules will apply to European physios working in the UK unless they have registered for permanent residency.

The Home Office’s announcement has also revealed new arrangements for international physiotherapy students who qualify in the UK.

Under the new rules they will be able to seek work in the UK for up to two years after study.

Advice for physios coming to work in the UK

To qualify for a ‘Skilled Worker’ Visa– which will replace the Tier 2 Visa and be the most common route to work in the UK - overseas-trained physiotherapists will need to demonstrate they have: a non-conditional job offer at an appropriate skill level for their profession; and English language skills equivalent to AS level.

Physiotherapists will also have to demonstrate their job offer meets a salary threshold, and/or that they hold a PhD in a relevant field. 

Unlike most roles however, physiotherapists and other health care professionals’ salary thresholds will be based on the NHS Agenda for Change pay rates of each UK nation, rather than median incomes. 

Further dispensations will also be made for registered healthcare professionals at the start of their careers – those aged under 26 years old, and/or switching from a student or graduate routes.

Further details and exemptions

Registered physiotherapists on a skilled worker visa will need to make a new application when changing employer or jobs, or deciding to extend their stay.

Except for roles graded at the equivalent of Agenda for Change Band 4 and above, most physiotherapy support worker roles will not be open to overseas entrants under the new Skilled Worker route. 

However, any Commonwealth citizen with a UK-born grandparent will be entitled to apply to live and work in the UK in any role for a period of five years, after which they will be entitled to apply for permanent residence.

Overseas staff already in the UK remain subject to the conditions of their current visa.

Eligibility for the Health and Care visa

Registered physiotherapists taking up roles in the NHS, organisations that provide NHS services, or social care will also be eligible for a ‘Health and Care Visa’ as part of the Skilled Worker route. 

This will reduce costs, with reduced visa fees and applicants either exempted from, or entitled to a refund for, the Immigration Health Surcharge for both themselves and any dependents. 

Applications should also be fast-tracked through a three-week decision window for this route – but applicants will still have to meet the general requirements of the Skilled Worker routes.

Coming to study in the UK

Overseas students that have trained in UK physiotherapy programmes will be entitled to seek work in the UK for two years following graduation, and switch to apply for a Skilled Worker visa if and when they secure a suitable job. 

Entry requirements for students – such as a guaranteed placed at a HEI provider and demonstration of A Level-equivalent English language ability, will be carried over from the previous system.

The CSP advises members from overseas on HCPC registration, employment and a range of other matters.

The CSP is not permitted to provide individual immigration advice. However, we do help members find the information or advice they may need, and members can receive free basic advice relating to UK immigration law through the Thompsons Solicitors advice line.


Number of subscribers: 3

Log in to comment and read comments that have been added