In a bid a strengthen the healthcare sector of the United Kingdom, the government has announced a new and special visa package for health workers across the globe.
The Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, announced on Monday that the visa package “Health and Care Visa” will grant easy and cheaper access for healthcare specialists to go to the UK.
The policy will be ready by this Summer and it will ensure that eligible health practitioners don’t experience delay or denial of access into the UK, according to the secretaries.
They have also confirmed that health care workers would be permanently exempted from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
The Home Secretary and Health and Social Care Secretary have together developed the Health and Care Visa to demonstrate the government’s commitment to deliver for the NHS and wider health and care sector. It is designed to make it easier and quicker for the best global health professionals to work in the NHS, for NHS commissioned service providers, and in eligible occupations in the social care sector.
Health and care staff will be able to apply for the special visa from August after the parliament seals the legislation today (Monday).
The new Health and Care Visa will come with a reduced visa application fee compared to that paid by other skilled workers, including exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge. Health and care professionals applying on this route can also expect a decision on whether they can work in the UK within 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 this on or after 31 March.
A statement by the Home Secretary Priti Patel, says, “We are indebted to overseas health and care professionals for their tremendous contributions, not just in saving thousands of lives throughout this crisis, but for the vital role they play year-round.
“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.”
Health and care professionals from all over the world have played a vital role in hospitals and care homes across the country fighting COVID-19. The introduction of the Health and Care Visa follows a number of unprecedented measures to show the UK’s gratitude to health workers from overseas.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said, “Our health and care system has always had a proud tradition of welcoming overseas staff to work, train and live in the UK, and I’m proud that the NHS is a destination of choice for talented people from around the world.
“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.
“I’m incredibly proud of our health and care workforce and look forward to welcoming new professionals from across the globe to continue the fantastic work to ensure our health system remains the best in the world.”
The Home Office has also supported frontline healthcare workers with initiatives such as visa extensions and the creation of the bereavement scheme.
The government has already began refunding Immigration Health Surcharge payments for any healthcare professionals on Tier 2 visas who have paid since 31 March 2020, and this process will continue.