The UK Government has reportedly suggested the introduction of special NHS visas for immigrants post-Brexit. This is being proposed to ensure that the flow of workers into the health system continues even after the country has left the European Union.
At present, the final outcomes of Britain’s exit from the EU are far from certain. However, one of the biggest questions in the split from Europe is how changes in immigration policy will affect the country’s health services, which rely heavily on overseas workers to function.
To analyse what implications this could have for future working immigrants coming to the UK and the National Health Service itself, this article looks at how the proposed NHS visa could work, who it could help, and if and when it might be fully implemented.
Why has an NHS visa been proposed?
Around 9.5% of doctors, 6.4% of nurses and an additional 5% of technical and support staff working in the National Health Service come from the EU. Brexit and the possible end of European Freedom of Movement in Britain could have a big impact on the immigration status of those living in the country as well as those considering relocating to work in the UK.
A sudden loss of these staff could cause major disruption to the safe functioning of the health service and, for that reason, the UK government has suggested the new NHS visas as a solution. It is hoped that by streamlining the process of immigration documentation for those coming to work in Britain, nationals of EU member states will continue to move to the country to work in the Health Service.
Who is the NHS visa for?
The NHS visa has been proposed for migrant healthcare workers seeking to move to Britain to work in the country’s National Health Service. The intention of this is to streamline the immigration process for these workers and make it easier to come to the UK to work in NHS hospitals and healthcare facilities.
How would this visa be implemented?
The UK government has indicated its preference to move the country to a point-based immigration system after it has left the European Union. As part of this new process and with the end of freedom of movement, the government would offer the NHS visa to eligible workers.
The country already uses a points-based system for 3rd-country nationals from outside the EU, which assesses incoming immigrants based on their:
- English language skills
- Previous earnings
The same criteria is likely to apply in the case of NHS workers from EU countries once the UK has left the European bloc. However, under the proposed system, it has been suggested that future NHS applicants post-Brexit would receive preferential treatment in the process of acquiring a visa.
There are likely to be various incentives for incoming NHS workers if this new immigration documentation comes into effect. It is thought that this type of visa will be approximately half the price of the normal UK working visa for healthcare professionals. Additionally, it would greatly cut down the time necessary to process entry documents to as little as 2 weeks.
Furthermore, it has also been reported that an immigration health surcharge (which affects all people living in the UK on a visa) could also be paid back gradually via their salaries instead of as an annual lump sum as it currently is today.
When would the NHS visa come into effect?
There are still a few hurdles that the NHS visa would need to clear before being fully implemented. The UK officially left the EU on January 31st, 2020, although it remains in a transition period until the end of the year. With negotiations between Westminster and Brussels ongoing, the eventual deal or lack thereof is still unclear.
However, in the event that the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, it seems likely that the NHS visa would be the government’s default position for arriving healthcare workers.
Much is still yet to be decided about the nature of Brexit and how it will affect people looking to live and work in the UK. However, the NHS visa is one example of how the future may look in the post-Brexit world for immigrants.
This can be gained easily online via a simple visa application form and on approval, the visa is sent directly to a personal email address where it can be printed off to present on arrival in the UK.