UK unveiled a fast-track health and care visa on Tuesday (14) to “attract the best and brightest from around the world”.
Home secretary Priti Patel and secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock have said that the new visa will be launched in the summer and it will make it cheaper, quicker and easier for foreign healthcare professionals to come to the UK.
The health and care visa will be open to workers who have a confirmed job offer in one of a series of “skilled” roles within the NHS or care sector – or for NHS service providers, such as doctors, nurses, radiographers, social workers and paramedics.
As part of the new scheme, those who apply via the visa and their dependents will be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
The legislation needed to open this new route was laid in Parliament on Tuesday and health professionals can apply from August, an official statement said.
The new visa comes with a reduced visa application fee and an exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge. Professionals applying on this route can also expect a decision on whether they can work in the UK in just three weeks, following biometric enrolment.
Those working in health and social care who do not qualify for the health and care visa will still be able to claim a reimbursement from the Immigration Health Surcharge if they have paid it on or after 31 March.
“This new visa is part of our new immigration system making it quicker, cheaper and easier for the best and brightest health and care professionals from around the globe to work in our brilliant NHS,” said Priti Patel.
“Health and care professionals from all over the world have played a vital role in hospitals and care homes across the country fighting coronavirus. The introduction of the health and care visa follows several unprecedented measures to show the UK’s gratitude to health workers from overseas.”
Matt Hancock said: “The unwavering commitment, skill and compassion staff have shown during the fight against this deadly virus is nothing short of phenomenal, and the reimbursement of the immigration health surcharge recognises the enormous contribution of those who have come to the UK to work in health and social care.
According to the statement, the government wants employers to focus on investing in the domestic workforce as immigration is not the answer to the challenges in the social care sector.