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Overseas nurses granted free automatic visa extensions

Eligible staff and their dependents to receive extra year as COVID-19 response continues
Picture shows someone about to stamp a passport

Eligible staff and their dependents to receive extra year as COVID-19 response continues

Nurses from overseas and their families will have their visas extended free of charge to help support the COVID-19 response, the government says.

Home secretary Priti Patel said eligible healthcare workers and their dependents whose visas are due to expire before 1 October 2021 will now have them automatically extended for one year.

Immigration health surcharge also waived

Christina McAnea Picture: Alamy

The Home Office first granted free automatic visa extensions to healthcare staff in March 2020. The scheme had been due to end in October 2020, but has been extended to March 2021. The extension will cover healthcare professionals working in the NHS and in

Eligible staff and their dependents to receive extra year as COVID-19 response continues

Picture shows someone about to stamp a passport
Picture: iStock

Nurses from overseas and their families will have their visas extended free of charge to help support the COVID-19 response, the government says.

Home secretary Priti Patel said eligible healthcare workers and their dependents whose visas are due to expire before 1 October 2021 will now have them automatically extended for one year.

Immigration health surcharge also waived

Picture of Unison general secretary Christina McAnea
Christina McAnea Picture: Alamy

The Home Office first granted free automatic visa extensions to healthcare staff in March 2020. The scheme had been due to end in October 2020, but has been extended to March 2021. The extension will cover healthcare professionals working in the NHS and in the independent health and care sector.

Eligible staff and their dependents are also exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge, a £675 annual fee to access NHS services.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea welcomed the news, saying it would come as a relief to staff. ‘Thousands of NHS workers will be relieved they don’t face hefty bills to continue providing vital services across the UK,’ she said.

‘Many have faced huge stresses and pushed themselves to the limit to treat and look after us all. It’s only right the government looks after them and makes their lives a little easier by granting free visas.’

Around 14,000 visa holders to be granted extensions

The government estimates that there are around 14,000 visa holders to whom the extensions will apply, including nurses, doctors and paramedics.

A House of Commons briefing paper says 18% of nurses and health visitors working in England’s hospitals and community services say their nationality is not British.

Ms Patel said the visa extension demonstrated how much the UK valued overseas health workers. ‘Thousands of them have helped save countless lives throughout this pandemic and are now playing a vital part in the hugely successful vaccination rollout.’


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