The UK government has announced the introduction of the new legislation for foreign health and care workers looking to work and settle in the UK. Confirmed in a joint statement by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Home Secretary, the new ‘Health and Care Visa’ pathway is set to go live this summer.
According to the government, the new entry point for foreign health and care workers will speed up and simplify the process of entering the UK for those who meet the eligibility requirements. The new fast-track visa route is effective as of August, attaching reduced visa application fees (compared to other skilled worker visas) and exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
In addition, those applying under the new scheme have been promised a formal decision within a maximum of three weeks from the date of their application.
A Quicker, Cheaper and Easier Visa Pathway
Commenting on the introduction of the new legislation, Priti Patel insisted that the new visa pathway would speed up and streamline the immigration process for eligible health and care workers.
“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 the Home Secretary.
“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,”
“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 a number of unprecedented measures to show the UK’s gratitude to health workers from overseas.”
A Destination of Choice
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, echoed Ms. Patel’s sentiments, while taking the opportunity to recognize the exceptional performance of the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis.
“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,” he 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 recognizes 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,”
“Right across the immigration system the Home Office is already supporting frontline healthcare staff through initiatives such as visa extensions and the creation of the bereavement scheme.”
The events of the past few months have motivated the UK government to focus more heavily on the important contributions of health care workers at all levels throughout be NHS. Though the pathway has already been criticized by opponents, who claim that through a combination of restrictions and enhanced eligibility requirements, the UK will ultimately be denied the input and support of potentially thousands of skilled care and health workers from overseas.