Foreign nurses in Britain, including a large number of Indians, are faced with the prospect of unemployment following a government move to safeguard jobs for British nurses.
With effect from Monday, nursing has been removed from the British government's list of professions that bypass immigration rules, reports said.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the move is in reaction to a growing surplus of nurses, which has made it harder for many British graduates to find a job.
Foreign nurses have become the backbone of the health services in Britain in recent years, with 45 per cent of new nurses registered coming from abroad.
Figures show that in 2004-05, 11,477 foreign nurses, including 3,690 from India, came to Britain from outside the European Union. Last month alone, 440 overseas nurses came to Britain.
However, the Royal College of Nursing is critical of the latest government decision.
"We're very concerned about what's going to happen to those nurses who are already working over here," a college spokesperson told the newspaper.
"They're really worried about how they're going to cope. A lot of them have brought their families over, and many of them have been working on the premise that their work permits are going to be renewed," he was quoted as saying.
According to the Daily Telegraph report, Britain's Department of Health will re-advertise for the nurses' old positions once their contracts end.
They will be able to keep the post only if there are no suitable British or European candidates. However, those overseas nurses who have worked for five years can reapply for the posts.
The Royal College of Nursing believes that the job shortage is only short term. Without overseas nurses it will be impossible to replace the 180,000 nurses due to retire over the next 10 years, the college was quoted as saying.