The Home Office has confirmed that free one-year visa extensions will be automatically granted to eligible overseas healthcare workers whose visas were due to expire before 1 October 2021.
The visa extension is expected to benefit 14,000 applicants. 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.”
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said:
“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.”
The extension will cover healthcare professionals working in the NHS and in 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
The list of professions covered includes doctors, nurses, paramedics and midwives, with 14,000 people expected to benefit. Unison said the move should be extended to care workers who had “been overlooked again”.
The government announcement on visa extensions can be accessed at the following link:
Recruitment and retention of care workers in the health and social care sector continues to be a major issue for care providers. The COVID-19 crisis has been particularly difficult for staff and a number of them have left the sector. Staff have a significant impact on the success of a care business, not only in commercial terms but also from a regulatory perspective. Therefore a number of providers who are reliant on overseas workers will be very disappointed to hear that the visa extension will not be extended to care workers.