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Overseas Social Workers

If you are not from the UK and qualified as a social worker overseas, there are two aspects to you being allowed to work as a social worker in the UK – having the right to work in the UK and being registered as a social worker in this country.

If you are a citizen of another EU country you will have the right to live and work in the UK, however, those from a non-EU country will need to obtain the correct visa and permission to work here. At present, only social work roles with children and young people are eligible for Tier 2 visas.

Sanctuary do not offer sponsorship for visa applications. Should you require sponsorship, you should contact potential employers before arriving in the UK to see if they can assist you.

Having the right to live and work in the UK does not automatically mean you can work as a social worker. The title ‘social worker’ is legally protected and anyone wishing to practise as a social worker in the UK must be registered with the regulatory body for the region they wish to work in.

These are:

England – Health and Care Professions Council
Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland Social Service Council
Scotland – Scottish Social Service Council
Wales – Care Council of Wales

Social workers who have trained and qualified outside the UK must meet the regulator’s criteria on qualifications, assessed practice, health and good character in order to register. The four councils work to the same basic criteria but you must register with the correct body.

Internationally qualified social workers wishing to work in the UK on a permanent basis must hold a qualification equivalent to the United Kingdom degree in Social Work. All overseas applicants for registration will be asked to provide detailed information of their qualifications and will face an assessment to confirm whether these are equivalent to the UK degree. Although the regulators work with other countries to understand the standards of training elsewhere, this process can take several weeks.

You will also be required to provide information on any disciplinary actions or investigations you have faced in relation to working in social care in any country to ensure that you meet the standards of conduct set out in the regulator’s code of practice. For further information follow the links above for each council.

There is one exception to this process. Social workers from the EU, European Economic Area or Switzerland who wish to work in the UK on a “temporary or occasional” basis can apply for temporary registration for up to one year without going through the review process. If you think you qualify for temporary registration, you should contact the appropriate regulator.

At present, there is no blanket ruling on the standard of English required by overseas social workers but this may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that vulnerable clients are not put at risk by poor communication.

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