Relaxed immigration rules for non-EU doctors and nurses

The Home Office is set to relax immigration rules to allow more non-EU skilled workers into the UK, in an attempt make it easier to recruit staff.

The visa cap, first introduced by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary, sets a limit for all non-EU skilled workers at 20,700 people a year. However, the cap has come under scrutiny recently as the NHS struggles to retain and recruit enough staff to handle mounting pressures. Such issues came to surface in April when 100 Indian doctors were refused visas to work in hospitals across the north of England, despite the hospitals emphasising a need for them.

It has been recently reported that 2,360 visa applications by doctors from outside the European Economic Area were refused in a five-month period, apparently because of the cap on Tier 2 visas, which are used by skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

NHS England had 35,000 nurse vacancies and nearly 10,000 doctor posts unfilled in February. It is likely that the proposed change will only apply to doctors and nurses, but it is thought the move could free up thousands of visas for workers in other industries like IT and teaching, even if the 20,700 total didn't change.

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