The government of the United Kingdom has scrapped the health surcharge levied on migrant National Health Service (NHS) workers. In addition, to show their continued gratitude towards healthcare workers and the vital role they have played in combatting the pandemic, the Home Secretary has announced that free visa extensions will be automatically granted to crucial migrant health and care workers.
Healthcare Workers Exempt From The UK’s Immigration Health Surcharge
The UK’s immigration health surcharge was introduced in 2015, costing migrants £400 yearly, and it is set to increase to £624 in October 2020. As of 21st May, 2020, all NHS workers will be exempt from the fees required to use the health service. Workers include health professionals, cleaners, porters, and even independent health and social care workers. Previously, all migrants who came from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and stayed for more than half a year had to pay the surcharge.
Free Visa Extensions Granted To Key Healthcare Workers
Migrant essential medical professionals whose visas are set to expire between 31st March and 1st October, 2020, will have an automatic visa extension granted for free. Health and care employers across the United Kingdom will be responsible for identifying those who will benefit from it. If you are a NHS worker who is entitled to a free visa extension, but have already paid for an unresolved application, you do have the option to apply for a refund.
The workers benefitting from this are the ones battling on the front lines of the pandemic, like doctors, nurses and paramedics. They also include midwives, radiographers, social workers and pharmacists. Independent workers outside of the NHS are also included in the extension. The extension will also apply to the family members of the workers.
According to Priti Patel, the UK’s Home Secretary, the British people “are incredibly grateful to all overseas health and care workers fighting this invisible enemy.”