Free Visa extensions for international healthcare workers
By Gemma Raw
The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on the NHS. With many hospitals now striving to clear backlogs of non-COVID treatment and routine procedures, this is no time to lose essential healthcare staff. That's why the Government has announced that a range of key health workers could be eligible for one-year visa extensions, without incurring extra costs. The move doesn't just apply to frontline doctors, nurses and midwives. Eligible healthcare professionals also include allied health workers, such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists, as well radiographers, biomedical scientists, pharmacists, podiatrists and psychologists.
How does it work?
To be eligible for the free one-year visa extension, you must have a job in the NHS or be working for an independent healthcare provider and your visa must be due to expire between now and 30 September 2021. The extension will come into effect from the expiry date of your current visa.
Your employer will notify UK Visas and Immigration if you're eligible for the extension. Then you simply extend your visa in the normal way via the Government'sonline portal. You'll need to supply an up-to-date photo and a scan or picture of your biometric residence permit.
Does the visa extension apply to family members?
Yes, if they're classed as a 'dependant' on your visa and their visa also expires before 30 September 2021, they may also be eligible for the one-year extension. A dependant means your husband, wife or partner and any children under 18.
What happens if you've already applied?
If you've already applied and paid the fee for a visa extension, and you're eligible for a free extension, you can claim back the money you've paid. Find out more about how to claim here.
How many foreign nationals work in UK healthcare jobs?
According to Government statistics from 2020, just under 14% of NHS staff report that they're of non-British nationality. That's around 170,000 out of 1.28 million healthcare workers. They come from 200 other countries, with the most common being India, the Philippines and Ireland.
Healthcare professionals from EU countries make up just over 9% of NHS hospital doctors, around 6% of nurses, just under 6% of scientific, therapeutic and technical staff, and just over 4% of clinical support staff. Almost one third of all EU nationals in NHS healthcare roles work in London.
If you are from overseas looking to find your next UK healthcare role, please upload your CV.