AGENCIES, London: In a relief to foreign doctors, including many from India, whose visas were set to expire in October this year, the UK government has extended the deadline by one year amid the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK government on Tuesday confirmed that visas of foreign doctors that are set to expire before October this year will get an automatic extension for one year as they help in the battle against coronavirus pandemic for the country’s National Health Service (NHS).
The extension, announced by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, will apply to around 2,800 migrant doctors, nurses and paramedics employed by the NHS whose visa is due to expire before October 1.
“Doctors, nurses and paramedics from all over the world are playing a leading role in the NHS’ efforts to tackle coronavirus and save lives. We owe them a great deal of gratitude for all that they do,” said Patel.
“I don’t want them distracted by the visa process. That is why I have automatically extended their visas – free of charge – for a further year,” the Indian-origin minister said.
The free of charge extension will also apply to their family members, demonstrating how valued overseas NHS staff are to the UK, the Home Office said.
To get more doctors and nurses on the frontline, the restriction on the amount of hours student nurses and doctors can work in the NHS has also been lifted.
On top of these changes, pre-registered overseas nurses who are currently required to sit their first skills test within three months and to pass the test within eight months, will now have this deadline extended to the end of the year. This will give overseas nurses more time to pass their exams, whilst they spend the immediate term working on the frontline.
Trainee doctors and nurses will also not be limited by the number of hours they can work in the NHS during term time, the Home Office said.
The extension to NHS visas will not only be fee-free and automatic but also exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).