UK permanent visas for NHS foreign nationals, MPs urge

Sanwar Ali comment:

Granting UK permanent residence (properly known as indefinite leave to remain) to migrants in the NHS, who are risking their lives during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic would be a nice gesture.  It is also being suggested that this concession should be extended to family members as well. 

Granting indefinite leave to remain will save migrants who may very well be in the UK under the Tier 2 visa and Tier 2 sponsor Licence scheme, their families and the NHS a great deal of money.   The cost to apply for indefinite leave to remain for a family of four is about £10,000, which many people have great difficulty in paying.  The fee is set at about ten times the costs for UK visa at the Home Office to process the applications.  If you pay for faster processing it will be a great deal more than that.

If you are affected by the coronavirus pandemic, need to stay longer and are unable to leave the UK you can apply to the Home Office.  Further details of applying under the coronavirus UK visa extension scheme in our recent news report.

MPs are urging UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to grant foreign nationals, working for the NHS, indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK in honour of their contribution to the fight against coronavirus. MPs are also calling for ILR to be granted to the families of non-UK doctors, nurses and paramedics.

The Home Office recently announced that UK visas would be extended by 12 months for around 2,800 foreign doctors, nurses and paramedics working flat out for the NHS in the ongoing battle against the spread of coronavirus. However, a cross-party group of 60 MPs say that ILR is a must for people who are putting their lives at risk daily.

The MPs, led by the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine and the shadow justice secretary, David Lammy, wrote to Priti Patel imploring her to say that “those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it.”

ILR for families of foreign NHS workers

The cross-party group is also demanding that ILR be granted to the families of those putting their lives at risk while working for the NHS during the pandemic. While the Home Office’s 12-month visa extension has been well received, the cross-party group of MPs, which includes Tory Party MP, Daniel Poulter, argue that it does not go far enough.

In a statement to The Guardian, Christine Jardine said: “Thousands of the doctors, nurses and support staff who work in our NHS – the people on the frontline of this crisis – are foreign nationals. Our beloved NHS could not function and lives would be lost at this difficult time without their contribution.”

“Right across the UK we have seen people’s enormous pride in the NHS and goodwill towards NHS staff. Now the government has a chance to show its own support for the people’s heroes by extending the right to remain to all the foreign national NHS workers fighting for our lives during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Jardine added.

Echoing comments made by fellow MPs of the cross-party group, Jardine argued that anyone who puts their life at risk for the citizens of this country, deserves to live in it. “This is not a gesture – it is our moral responsibility,” Jardine said.

NHS relies on migrants, many on Tier 2 visa scheme

In the letter sent to Home Secretary, Priti Patel, signatories include MP Caroline Lucas of the Green Party, Tim Farron – the former leader of the Liberal Democrats and Jess Phillips – a contender for the leadership of the Labour Party.

The reliance of the NHS on migrants was recently amplified by the fact that the first four doctors to die from coronavirus were all born outside the UK. Dr Alfa Saadu, 68, Amged el-Hawrani, 55, Adil El Tayar, 64 and GP Dr Habib Zaidi, 76, had ancestry in regions including Asia, the Middle East and Africa, according to a report in The Guardian.

Prior to lifting its Tier 2 visa cap in 2018, the government was widely criticised for rejecting visa applications made by thousands of doctors from outside the European Economic Area, despite widespread staff shortages across NHS trusts.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “We recognise and value the huge contribution which foreign NHS workers are making at this difficult time. That is why we announced an automatic 12-month, free of charge, visa extension for NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics whose visa will expire before October, to ease the situation for them.”

“We are continuing to see how else we can further assist frontline NHS workers during this crisis,” the spokesperson added.

Coronavirus cases and death toll rises in UK

As of 9 April, 60,733 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed, with the death toll rising to 7.097. UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was recently admitted to hospital suffering from the virus and moved to intensive care after his condition worsened. However, while he remains in intensive care, he is reported to be stable.

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