A Complete Guide to the Domestic Work Visa in Europe
By Kevin Nkrumah – Oct 02, 2023
At Centuro Global, clients often ask if foreign domestic employees can accompany them on European trips. Fortunately, we know of countries with immigration laws that permit domestic employees like nannies, housekeepers, drivers, cooks, and caregivers to travel with their employers and families.
However, relocating foreign domestic workers to another country can be difficult and overwhelming, especially when dealing with the laws and procedures.
This detailed article explores the complexities of immigration and visas for foreign domestic workers. It focuses on those who want to travel with their domestic employees to the UK, Spain or Italy. We will explain the main requirements and guide you through each visa application process.
Who is a foreign Domestic Worker?
In Europe, more and more migrant domestic workers work in private homes. They care for children when both parents are at work and also for older people, considering Europe’s ageing population.
Despite the growing demand for this labour, domestic and care services in the private home remain mainly “unskilled”. It is not recognised in many countries as a category for immigration. Thus, migrant workers who come to work in private homes in the EU are only allowed to enter some countries on temporary visas or come as tourists.
This depends on their nationality and the EU state where they reside and work. For most non-EU migrants, they may be working on a visa that requires them to work in private households, as is the case in Spain and Italy. Or they may have access to the labour market, for example, with a student visa in the UK, which allows people to work 20 hours a week.
If you have a member of your private household staff that you’d like to accompany you to the UK, they must apply for and obtain entry clearance as an overseas domestic worker in advance. This means that an application for a visa must be made overseas.
To begin the application process, you must visit the UK Home Office online portal, which will allow you to complete an online application.
The applicant must also have their biometric information taken at an overseas visa application centre. This will include a scan of their fingerprints and a face photograph.
An application can be made for a foreign domestic worker visa up to three months before the individual’s travel date to the UK. They should be given a decision on their visa application within three weeks, although you can pay for a faster decision.
As the employer of a foreign domestic worker, you’ll be responsible for applying and travel costs, and you will not be permitted to recoup any fees or expenses from the worker’s wages.
The cost of applying for a domestic worker visa is £637. There will be an additional charge of £500 for the priority service (for a decision within five working days) or £800 for the super-priority service (for a decision by the next working day). The timescales for the priority services run from the date the applicant submits their biometric information.
The employee has to fulfil the following criteria:
- Must be a minimum of 19 years old.
- Have to be a ‘domestic worker’ in a private household.
- You must have worked for the employer for at least one year.
- You must work in the same household as your employer or a household they use regularly.
- Must be able to support yourself in the UK.
- Must get paid at least the UK national minimum wage. You can check the minimum wage rates for the UK at this link.
- Applicants must also prove they can maintain and accommodate themselves in the UK without recourse to public funds and do not fall foul of the general grounds for refusal.
Additional documents may be needed, depending on the applicant’s circumstances, together with certified translations of any documents not written in English or Welsh.
The employer of the domestic worker must be:
- A non-UK citizen coming to the UK for a visit and do not intend to stay longer than six months OR
- A British citizen who normally lives outside the UK who does not intend to stay in the UK for longer than six months
The length of stay on this visa is only up to six months. When the employer leaves the UK, the domestic employee must also leave at the end of the six months, whichever period is sooner.
It is not possible to extend this visa. However, You may be able to extend a Domestic Worker in a Private Household visa if you applied on or before 5 April 2012. The total time spent on the visa cannot be more than the maximum of six months.
Provisions for Victims of Modern Slavery in the UK.
If you believe you are a victim of modern slavery or human trafficking in the UK, here’s a summary of what you should know and do:
- Recognising the Signs: If you or someone you know is being forced into labour, marriage, or any activity against their will, often accompanied by threats or actual harm, it’s crucial to seek help.
- Eligibility for Staying in the UK: If you have been recognised as a victim of modern slavery or human trafficking and entered the UK on specific visas (Overseas Domestic Worker visa, Domestic Worker in a Private Household visa, or as a private servant of a diplomat via the Temporary Work – International Agreement visa), you can apply to stay in the UK for up to 2 years.
- Conclusive Grounds Letter:
- This letter from the Single Competent Authority (SCA) confirms that you are a victim of modern slavery or human trafficking.
- To obtain this letter, contact the police or another ‘first responder’ organisation, which will then refer your case to the SCA.
- The SCA evaluates your case and will provide a conclusive grounds letter if they confirm your status as a victim.
- First Responder Organisations: These are specific organisations authorised to assist in referring your case to the SCA. The list of these organisations can be found in the guidance on referrals.
- Once you receive the conclusive grounds letter, you have 28 days to apply online to remain in the UK.
- There is no fee for this application.
- Seeking Help: Always prioritise safety. If you’re uncertain or scared, there are numerous helplines and charities that specialise in supporting victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.
In Spain, a Foreign Domestic Worker Visa (FDW) is similar to a tourist Visa. The main difference with other Schengen visa applications is that the employer sponsors the trip in these cases since the foreign domestic worker accompanies them on the short-term stay in Spain.
A. The employee has to fulfil the following criteria:
- You must have worked for the employer for at least one year.
- And has to provide the following:
B. Passport (Original and Photocopy of the identity pages).
C. Flight reservation or booking
D. Proof of accommodation – In the case of accommodation provided by any person (employer, relatives/friends) residing in Spain, an official letter of invitation, “CARTA OFICIAL DE INVITACION”, issued by the Spanish Police, is required.
E. Travel/medical insurance
F. An updated letter from the employer’s company
- An updated letter from the employer’s spouse’s company is required for non-working employers.
- For self-employed, a final tax return and an updated statement of the ACRA is required.
G. Proof of the employer’s financial circumstances.
Upon consideration of the non-exhaustive list of the above documents, further supportive documentation may be requested in each case.
Applications accepted at the Spain Visa Application Centre will be submitted to the Embassy of Spain on the next working day. Once the application has been submitted, the applicant can request additional documentation supporting the same.
Visa Applications for certain nationals will require an additional security check that may result in longer visa processing time. Check the Annex 16 for the list of these countries.
The Italian Domestic Worker Visa is specifically conceived for employees who have regularly worked abroad on full-time domestic work contracts with Italian or EU citizens resident abroad and who intend to move to Italy to continue their employment. This type of application is not subject to any numerical limitations and can be submitted at any time in the year.
Both the employer and employee have to fulfil the following criteria:
• The foreign worker and the Italian or EU employer should have had a working relationship of at least one year abroad, where they have resided;
• The EU or foreign employer has legally resided abroad;
• The EU or foreign employer moved their residency to Italy;
• The employer should provide the worker with suitable housing in Italy.
1. Applying for and collecting the ‘Nulla Osta’ (Certificate of No Impediment) issued by the competent
2. Filing the visa application at the Italian Consulate of the applicant’s place of residency;
3. Entry in Italy and application for the residence permit at the competent Police headquarters within eight days;
4. Registration of the worker’s Fingerprints at the competent Police headquarters;
5. Issuance of the Residence Permit.
The average time frame to obtain the visa is approximately two months as of the date of the application. Once the applicant obtains the visa, they can travel to Italy, apply for the residence permit and reside there legally.
The residence permit has the job offer duration communicated by the employer. However, its validity can never exceed two years.
The residence permit is renewable under the same substantive conditions for its first issuance as long as the foreign national is never absent from the Italian territory for longer than six continuous months.
After five years of continuous registered legal residency in Italy, a foreign domestic employee would be eligible to apply for a permanent residence permit.
How we can help you
Each jurisdiction presents its own set of challenges and benefits for obtaining domestic worker visas. Whether you are an employer seeking to bring your trusted domestic employee with you or an employee considering the opportunity to work abroad, we have a team of highly experienced consultants who will assist you with the right visa and all other aspects of EU immigration law.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance and more information about the requirements and procedures for obtaining a foreign domestic worker visa.