COVID-19: More NHS staff can now extend their visa for free

The UK government announced in March that NHS frontline workers with visas due to expire before 1st October 2020 will be granted automatic one-year extensions free of charge, due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Previously, only NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics were eligible for visa extensions under the scheme. However, the latest update released by the government on 1st May has confirmed additions to this list, meaning many more frontline workers will now meet the criteria to have their one-year extensions authorised. As a result of the expansion, it is estimated that around 3,000 migrant workers will be able to extend their stay in the UK.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We are incredibly grateful to all overseas health and care workers fighting this invisible enemy. We have already announced the extension of visas for NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics. Now we are going further by extending this offer to hundreds of other frontline health and care workers, both in the NHS and in the independent sector. These extensions will be automatic, free and include exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.”

Who is eligible?

The updated list now covers a wider range of frontline healthcare roles within the NHS and independent healthcare providers. Visa extensions will now be granted for the following professions:

  • biochemist
  • biological scientist
  • dental practitioner
  • health professional
  • medical practitioner
  • medical radiographer
  • midwife
  • nurse
  • occupational therapist
  • ophthalmologist
  • paramedic
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist
  • podiatrist
  • psychologist
  • social worker
  • speech and language therapist
  • therapy professional

To get the extension, you must have a visa that’s due to expire before 1st October 2020. If you are eligible for the scheme, your family members could also receive extensions of up to one year.

NHS workers who have already submitted a UK visa application that has yet to be resolved will also be able to withdraw their existing application and request a refund.

Other visa extensions

Visa applicants and temporary UK residents who cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions may also be granted an extension on request. Current advice from the government is as follows:

  • If you are in the UK and your leave expires between 24th January 2020 and 31st May 2020, your visa will be extended to 31st May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation. Those affected can apply for an extension by filling in an online form.
  • If you plan on staying in the UK long-term, you can apply online from the UK to switch to a long-term visa until 31st May 2020.

What’s next?

The current Home Office guidance applies until 31st May 2020. As such, we fully expect to hear updated advice from the government regarding further visa extensions for those impacted by travel restrictions beyond 31st May.

At Smith Stone Walters, we are proud to support our frontline healthcare heroes and want to extend our gratitude for their hard work and dedication during these difficult times. With this in mind, we are offering free assistance to any European NHS workers in filing their EU settlement scheme applications. If you need advice on how to secure your right to remain in the UK, you can contact us today. We’d be delighted to help.

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