NHS Workers Visas Extended: Doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year.
All nurses, doctors and paramedics who are not British, EEA citizens or settled in the UK were required to obtain clearance (visa) in order to live and work in the UK. Workers in this category normally do this via the Tier 2 (General) Migrant route.
Their leave to enter is normally valid for a certain period of time. Holders of Tier 2 visa are expected to make an application to extend their stay in the UK before their visa expires. As part of the process, they need to pay the fee for themselves (£610), for their dependents (£610) and the Immigration Health Surcharge. Thus, an average family with one Tier 2 (General Migrant), their spouse and two children wishing to extend their stay in the UK for 1 more year will need to pay £4,000 (£2,400 (visa fee £610 x 4 people) + £1,600 (IHS of £400 x 4)) to the Home Office for their applications. This amount excludes solicitors fees.
On 31 March 2020, the Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the UK government and will waive all those fee and will automatically have their visas extended, free of charge, for one year. This provided they are employed by the NHS and their visas are due to expire before 1 October 2020.
There are around 2,800 migrant doctors, nurses and paramedics who will benefit from this really helpful concession.
The extension will also apply to the family members of overseas NHS staff who are already in the UK.
According to Priti Patel: ‘By giving them the peace of mind that they do not need to apply for a visa extension, this will allow those at the frontline – working around the clock in hospitals to treat the most seriously ill – to focus fully on combatting coronavirus and saving lives’.
No Restriction on Working Hours for Students
Foreign medical students (bachelor degree or above) could normally work only 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during vacations.
The Home Office has just lifted the restriction on the amount of hours student nurses and doctors can work in the NHS.
Trainee doctors and nurses can now work without any restriction on the number of hours they can work in the NHS during term time.
Deadline for Nurses are Extended
On top of these changes, pre-registered overseas nurses who are currently required to sit their first skills test within 3 months and to pass the test within 8 months, will now have this deadline extended to the end of the year as well. This will give overseas nurses more time to pass their exams, whilst they spend the immediate term working on the frontline.
No Immigration Health Surcharge
The Secretary of State will automatically extend the NHS visas. There will be no fee for this. The NHS workers will not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.
NHS Workers: the Statistics
If you are curious about how many foreign workers, the NHS is currently employing, I found the answers in the House of Commons Library.
Total number of NHS staff is 1.2 million. They employ nationals from over 212 different countries. 86.9% of NHS staff in England are British. 5.5% are nationals of other EU countries – just over 65,000 staff. This varies in different parts of the country. In London, 11% of staff are nationals of other EU countries. In North East England the proportion is 2%. The percentage of EU staff has remained at 5.5% since EU referendum but recorded numbers have risen.
13% of doctors and 7% of nurses report an Asian nationality. 37% of hospital doctors gained their medical qualification outside the UK. Over half of these qualified in Asia. 9% qualified in other EU countries.
The majority of NHS staff in England are British – but a substantial minority are not. As of March 2019, 153,344 NHS staff report a non-British nationality. Just over 65,000 are nationals of other EU countries. Indian, Filipino and Irish are the most common non-British nationalities.
72% of doctors in hospital and community health services (HCHS) are British. This is lower than other NHS staff categories. 13% (15,019) doctors report an Asian nationality, of which almost two-thirds are Indian or Pakistani.
9.5% (10,894) of doctors report an EU nationality other than British, with Irish people making up one-fifth of this number.
There are 4,586 doctors with an African nationality (4%). The highest ‘Other’ nationalities are Australian and Canadian, both with 365.
20% of doctors qualified in Asia. In total, over 17,000 doctors qualified in India or Pakistan, while just under 9,000 now report either India or Pakistani nationality. 6% of doctors qualified in Africa.