On 31 March, the Home Office announced that around 2,800 doctors, nurses and paramedics employed by the NHS and with visas due to expire by 1 October would get a free one-year extension. Family members were included and no fees would be charged. Then, on 29 April, the Home Secretary announced that the scheme would be extended to include frontline workers in the independent health and care sector.
The Home Office has confirmed that the professions eligible for the free extension are:
Employers in the health and care sector are expected to inform UK Visas and Immigration ('UKVI') which employees are eligible for an extension. At this stage we do not yet know whether UKVI will contact those employers to request that information, or whether employers are expected to contact UKVI first. We understand that, after the Home Office's initial announcement at the end of March, NHS Trusts were contacted by UKVI. But now that the concession has been extended to the independent health and care sector, it is uncertain whether UKVI will have suitably accurate records of those employers who employ foreign nationals in eligible professions. Such employers are therefore advised to keep an eye out for further announcements on this scheme.
Once contact has been made with UKVI, employers will then tell eligible employees to send their and their families' biometric residence permits to UKVI so that new ones confirming the extension can be issued.
Health and care providers should ensure that the records they hold of employees' immigration status are up to date, so that they can provide UKVI with an accurate list of their employees who qualify for the automatic extension. Additionally, workers in the health and care sectors who believe that they qualify may wish to ensure that their employers are aware of their immigration status.