The year 2020 has been a quite disturbing year for almost all the global economies. However, the UK has been caught in between the disruptions caused due to the ongoing pandemic and the Brexit transitional period which officially ends on 1 January 2021. However, the Boris Johnson government has been proactively dealing with both these situations and trying to sail through the storm without taking significant damage.
While the Brexit is supposedly believed to create a shortage of skilled workers in the UK, the COVID-19 has only added to the problem. However, back in mid-July, the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced the new Health and Care Visa which will bridge the gap of shortage of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in the UK.
Announcing the new Health and Care Visa, the concerned government officials said:
Home Secretary Priti Patel:
“We are indebted to overseas health and care professionals for their tremendous contributions, not just in saving thousands of lives throughout this crisis, but for the vital role they play year-round.”
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock:
“Our health and care system has always had a proud tradition of welcoming overseas staff to work, train and live in the UK, and I’m proud that the NHS is a destination of choice for talented people from around the world.”
As defined by gov.uk, the new visa system will “make it cheaper, quicker, and easier for healthcare professionals from around the world to come to the UK.”
Health and Care Visa applications open from August 2020
The new Health and Care Visa applications are now open for international applicants from August 2020 onwards. The UK Government further claims this to be a fulfillment of their commitment made to the NHS in response to skill shortages post-Brexit.
Immigration Health Surcharge exemption and other benefits
As per the new rules, applicants who apply for the visa will no longer be subject to Immigration Health Surcharge. To keep up with this promise of exemption, Boris Johnson’s government has also said that refunds will be given to those who are still paying the fee during the ongoing pandemic. Moreover, the new visa comes with a comparatively lesser fee as compared to other skilled workers.
Migrant social care workers are excluded from the visa, however, they will be still applicable to claim any reimbursements if they paid the Immigration Health Surcharge on or before 31st March.
Amidst the ongoing pandemic, the role played by the NHS workers along with other healthcare employees has proved how vital their role is for any society. And the UK Government is doing all that it can to recognise their importance. This also includes government efforts to improve the healthcare sector by providing proper training as well as provide well-structured career opportunities.