New visa concessions for doctors travelling to West Africa to assist with Ebola

World mosaic

05 / 11 / 2014 3.38pm

In recognition of the exceptional circumstances, the Home Office has announced new concessions for doctors currently sponsored under Tier 2 who wish to volunteer to travel to West Africa to support the work on managing Ebola.

Summary of the concessions:

- The existing rules regarding unpaid leave will be waived for this purpose.  

- Providing any leave is agreed between the doctor and their sponsor, doctors may take up to six months unpaid leave per year to assist Ebola victims without it affecting their Tier 2 sponsorship.

- Absences from the UK for this purpose will not affect any future applications for settlement and naturalisation.

The employment conditions within Tier 2 only relate to employment in the UK - any employment or volunteering undertaken to provide support in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa are exempt from this condition.

For these concessions to apply the individual must ensure:

- The arrangements issued by NHS England and Public Health England for individuals wishing to volunteer are followed.

- The Public Health England guidance for returning humanitarian aid workers is adhered to.

The sponsor must ensure that they inform the Home Office of the absence of any individual in the usual way through the sponsor management system. The concession applies with immediate effect and will be set out in the November 2014 update to the Tier 2 sponsor guidance.

Tier 4:

Medical students in Tier 4 who wish to volunteer in West Africa are permitted to defer their studies providing their sponsor agrees. If there are compelling reasons, a sponsor may be able to continue to sponsor the student while they are overseas for an unlimited period providing that when they resume their studies they are still able to complete them within their existing leave. Although deferment of studies will be limited to 60 days from this November, the rules provide for exceptions in unusual circumstances such as these.

If students are unable to complete their studies within their existing leave, they may apply for a new visa when they are ready to resume their studies. 

Again, the arrangements for volunteering outlined by NHS England and the guidance for returning humanitarian aid workers published by Public Health England, need to be followed.

NHS Employers has also provided some general Ebola information and signposting for employers.

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