Visa extensions and changes to the application process

COVID-19 sources of external staffing

The Home Office earlier this year put in place temporary measures to extend the visas of all regulated healthcare professionals across the NHS and the independent sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. These measures initially applied to nurses, doctors and paramedics and were extended to other professions on 29 April.

A further extension was announced on 20 November and more information, including how the scheme is being managed, can be found in this latest news article. Please note the new scheme does not require biometry residence permits (BRPs) to be sent to the Home Office.

Right to work

UKVI continue to process applications and updates will be given as soon as a worker's visa is extended. UKVI confirmed in May that there is no risk to employers or your employees of enforcement action during this time where applications for visa extensions have been made. Information for applicants is also available on the Gov.UK website.

Eligibility

The current visa extensions apply to a large number of professionals employed by the NHS, whose visa is due to expire before 31 March 2021.

  • biochemist
  • biological scientist
  • dental practitioner
  • health professional
  • medical practitioner
  • medical radiographer
  • midwife
  • nurse
  • occupational therapist
  • ophthalmologist
  • paramedic
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist
  • podiatrist
  • psychologist
  • social worker
  • speech and language therapist
  • therapy professional.
You can contact UKVI's dedicated NHS mailbox with queries about these extensions: UKVINHSTeam@homeoffice.gov.uk. You should also contact the UKVI NHS team if you have any doubts or concerns about an individuals right to work. Our understanding is that a vast majority of individuals will have no issues with their right to work during this time, including if they are still waiting for a BRP to be returned. 


Applying in-country

Due to travel restrictions, individuals on visitor visas, for example doctors on clinical attachments who are eligible to secure GMC registration, can now apply for a Tier 2 visa from within the UK, otherwise known as an in-country application.  

Individuals who would normally have to return to their home country to apply for Tier 2 visas have been temporarily allowed to apply in country, for example doctors who have passed their Professional Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test. This is being kept under review; more details are available on Gov.uk.

Visa centres

Information on overseas visa centres and opening can be found on Gov.uk.

A number of UK-based Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) are also now open. More detail is available on the UKVCAS page on Gov.uk.

Language testing

English Testing centres have also resumed their services. Individuals should be directed to the appropriate language providers' websites (e.g. IELTS, OET or Pearson VUE), or contact their local test centre for details.

Home Office bereavement scheme

The bereavement scheme was launched in April and offers indefinite leave to remain for the families and dependents of health workers in the NHS and the independent health and care sector. The scheme was extended on May 20 to cover NHS support staff and social care workers.

UK Visas and Immigration are contacting employers to identify those eligible for the scheme and will arrange for those affected to be issued with indefinite leave to remain. If further information is required or relatives believe they are eligible but have not yet heard anything, enquiries in the first instance should be shared with UKVINHSTeam@homeoffice.gov.uk.

More details are available on the Gov.uk website.

Other changes

To secure additional capacity of staff on the frontline, the Home Office lifted the restriction on the amount of hours student doctors, nurses and paramedics can work in the NHS.

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