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UK extends work visas for Indian, foreign doctors, nurses to fight COVID-19

The extension, announced by the UK Home Office last Friday, will cover healthcare professionals working in the National Health Service (NHS) and the independent health and care sector

PTI | Tuesday, November 24, 2020 | 13:46 IST

The UK government has confirmed a further one-year visa extension for foreign doctors and nurses, including from India, whose visas are set to expire before March 31, 2021, as they battle the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

It follows an announcement earlier in the year offering free visa extensions for health professionals whose visas were due to expire between March and October this year and will mean that more than 6,000 doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives, occupational therapists, psychologists as well as a range of allied health professionals will be eligible for a further fee-free extension.

"We recognise the huge contribution healthcare professionals from overseas are making across the UK in fighting the devastating impact of coronavirus," said UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. "We truly value the work these heroes are doing, which is why we're renewing our free 12-month visa extension offer. We estimate this will benefit a further 6,000 dedicated frontline workers and their families who deserve our support and our gratitude," she said.

The extension, announced by the UK Home Office last Friday, will cover healthcare professionals working in the National Health Service (NHS) and the independent health and care sector. Their visas will be extended for a year, free of all fees and charges, including the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).

Those benefiting from this extension will need to complete an online form to verify their identity, with their employers also asked to confirm eligibility. "This visa extension will help to benefit healthcare professionals who have shown extraordinary dedication during this challenging period to protect all of us and our families from the threat of the virus," said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The UK government said the latest move is just one part of a range of measures taken to support the NHS and wider health and care sector during the coronavirus pandemic. The Bereavement Scheme, which grants permanent UK residency to the family members of overseas medics who die after contracting coronavirus, has also been expanded to all NHS, health and social care workers.

Eligible health professionals and their dependants can also apply for the new fast-track Health and Care Visa, which is intended to make it easier, cheaper and quicker for the global health professionals to work in the NHS, the social care sector and for those organisations which provide commissioned services to the NHS.

The UK has so far reported 1,515,802 cases of coronavirus along with 55,120 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Also read: COVID-19 vaccine: $4.3 billion urgently needed for COVAX scheme, says WHO

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