The UK government approved a one-year visa extension for foreign doctors and nurses, including from India, whose visas are set to expire before March 31, 2021. The decision was taken considering their contribution to the battle against the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.
This follows an announcement made in early 2020 offering free visa extensions to health professionals whose visas were due to expire between March and October this year. More than 6,000 doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives, occupational therapists, psychologists as well as a range of allied health professionals in UK will be eligible for a further fee-free extension.
Home Secretary of the UK, Priti Patel made a statement, “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.”
The extension, announced by the UK Home Office in November 2020, will cover healthcare professionals working in the National Health Service (NHS) and the independent health and care sector. The visa extension will be free of all charges, including the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The beneficiaries of this extension will need to complete an online form to verify their identity, with their employers also asked to confirm eligibility.
“This visa extension will help to benefit healthcare professionals who have shown extraordinary dedication during this challenging period to protect all of us and our families from the threat of the virus,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
The UK government said the latest move is just one part of a range of measures taken to support the NHS and wider health and care sector during the coronavirus pandemic. The Bereavement Scheme, which grants permanent UK residency to the family members of overseas medics who die after contracting coronavirus, has also been expanded to include all NHS, health and social care workers. Also, eligible health professionals and their dependents can now apply for the new fast-track Health and Care Visa, which is intended to make it easier, cheaper and quicker for the global health professionals to work in the NHS, the social care sector and for those organisations which provide commissioned services to the NHS.