Doctors, nurses and paramedics from abroad are to have their visas extended so they can “focus on fighting coronavirus”, however an MP has labelled this move as ‘piecemeal.’
The extension will apply to around 2,800 migrant health professionals who are working for the NHS and have UK work visas which are due to expire before October 1.
They will be renewed automatically for a year free of charge so they can remain working in the country, the Home Office said.
The changes will also apply to their family members.
Restrictions have also been lifted on how many hours international student doctors and nurses can work for the NHS per week, according to an announcement on Tuesday.
Deadlines for registered overseas nurses to pass skills tests will also be extended so they have more time to take exams while working on the front line.
However, Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister, Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP has criticised the Home Office’s announcement describing it as “incommensurate with the superhuman effort migrant workers are putting into the fight against coronavirus”.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, Shadow Immigration Minister, said: “The current crisis is showing yet again that the 29% of non-British NHS doctors are completely indispensable to our healthcare system.
“The Home Office’s announcement that it will extend the visas of migrant doctors, nurses, paramedics and their families is a piecemeal show of gratitude. It is completely incommensurate with the superhuman effort migrant workers are putting into the fight against coronavirus.
“Successive immigration policies have no doubt exacerbated key worker shortages. With outstanding staffing gaps in the NHS, there’s no justification for not granting NHS key workers indefinite leave to remain.
“Lest we forget, migrants helped build our NHS. The sheer number of British lives these key workers save every year more than earns them the right to live theirs in this country.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Doctors, nurses and paramedics from all over the world are playing a leading role in the NHS’s efforts to tackle coronavirus and save lives. We owe them a great deal of gratitude for all that they do.
“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.”
On Monday the Home Office said landlords and employers will be allowed to carry out right to rent and work checks for staff and tenants over a video call during the coronavirus outbreak.
Scanned paperwork, rather than original documents, will also be accepted as it made temporary changes to the process so immigration checks were made easier during the crisis.
Once the temporary changes end, landlords and employers will be asked to carry out full checks on existing tenants and employees who rented a property or started work during the coronavirus outbreak.