Health workers to benefit from visa extensions

More than 6,000 frontline health workers will have their visas extended for a year for free, including doctors, nurses and paramedics.

Home Secretary Priti Patel says that this will ensure that 6,000 doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives, occupational therapists, psychologists as well as a range of allied health professionals will be able to continue their crucial work in the fight against coronavirus.

It was announced earlier in the year that the government would offer free visa extensions for health professionals whose visas were due to expire between 31 March 2020 and 1 October 2020. The latest decision will extend that offer from 1 October 2020 until 31 March 2021. This extension will cover healthcare professionals working in the NHS and the independent health and care sector. Their visas will be extended for a year, free of all fees and charges, including the Immigration Health Surcharge.

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. We estimate this will benefit a further 6,000 dedicated frontline workers and their families who deserve our support and our gratitude.”

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.

“Our international colleagues have worked tirelessly and selflessly during the pandemic, providing care and support as we all faced unprecedented challenges. This often came at the expense of their own health and wellbeing, and as we know, in too many cases, we have seen staff who came from overseas to look after people in this country tragically lose their own lives to Covid-19. 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.”