Visas extended for 6,000 healthcare workers
Healthcare professionals whose visas are due to expire before April 2021 will now be able to stay in the UK for an extra year.
The Home Office has confirmed it will extend visas of over 6,000 frontline health workers for free, including lifting the immigration health surcharge.
The change will also allow family dependents to stay.
It applies to all those whose visas expire between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021, following a previous announcement which saw a year added to the visas of those due to expire between 31 March and 1 October this year.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We recognise the huge contribution healthcare professionals from overseas are making across the UK in fighting the devastating impact of coronavirus.
“We truly value the work these heroes are doing, which is why we’re renewing our free 12-month visa extension offer.”
Doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives and a range of allied health professionals will be eligible for visa extension.
Those who wish the make use of the extension must fill out on online form to verify their identity and employers will be asked to confirm eligibility.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “We’re glad that the Government has listened to the calls of the BMA by removing this unnecessary, bureaucratic and costly barrier to international healthcare staff continuing to offer their services and expertise here in the months ahead, during what is set to be an incredibly difficult winter.”
He added: “We owe this vital group of staff a huge debt of gratitude and they should never have had to worry about their immigration status as they fought this virus on the frontline.”
Earlier this week, a group of MPs wrote to Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, urging him to make time to debate the Immigration (Health and Social Care Staff) Bill.
The bill, brought forward by Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine, would grant all health and social care staff indefinite leave to remain.
The letter, signed by 37 MPs, said: “The idea that anyone who has worked so hard to save lives during this emergency might one day be forced to leave should be unthinkable.
“They and their families should be granted the right to settle here, without the costs or bureaucratic hurdles that usually involves. This would be a small way to recognise and celebrate the enormous contributions that people from all over the world make to our NHS – and to our society, our economy and our communities more broadly.”