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The Home Office has said that frontline health workers from overseas will be given a free one-year UK visa extension.
Covering doctors, nurses, paramedics and midwives, there are an estimated 14,000 people expected to benefit. The move applies to eligible workers whose visas are due to run out before 1 October 2021, as well as their dependants.
The Home Office first granted free automatic visa extensions to health workers in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK. More than 10,000 had received the extension last year.
The offer was initially limited to NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics whose visas ran out between 31 March 2020 and 1 October 2020, but it was later extended to include more professions.
A health and care worker visa normally costs £232 per person for up to three years or £464 per person for three to five years. It must be extended after five years, or if the worker changes jobs. The visa is £55 cheaper if the applicant is from one of the eligible European countries.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "The dedication and skill of overseas health and care workers who are leading the UK’s fight against coronavirus is truly extraordinary. Thousands of them have helped save countless lives throughout this pandemic and are now playing a vital part in the hugely successful vaccination rollout. Our offer of free visa extensions shows how our country values the contributions of these heroes."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: "Our overseas health and care workers make such a vital contribution to our health system and have been a key part of fight against the pandemic. They are protecting our loved ones and vaccinating the public so that we can save lives and return to normality. To help those staff from overseas, we are extending their visas to provide security while they continue to tackle this virus."
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