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Relief for Indian doctors, nurses as UK lifts visa cap

The cap was introduced as part of the Conservative government’s plans to curb immigration, when May was the home secretary in 2011. Doctors and nurses have now been excluded from the cap given their major shortage in the National Health Service.

world Updated: Jun 15, 2018 18:22 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
UK visa,Indians in UK,Indian doctors
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting his British counterpart Theresa May on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. (PTI Photo)

A large number of Indian and other non-EU doctors and nurses will be allowed to take up jobs in the United Kingdom after the Theresa May government on Friday excluded them from a limit of 20,700 visas per year meant for skilled professionals.

The cap was introduced as part of the Conservative government’s plans to curb immigration, when May was the home secretary in 2011. Doctors and nurses have now been excluded from the cap given their major shortage in the National Health Service.

At least 100 Indian doctors were recently denied visas to take up NHS jobs due to the visa limit of 20,700, which is divided monthly. Under the Tier 2 visa cap, UK-based employers need to apply for certificates of sponsorship to recruit Indian and other non-EU skilled workers.

Before December 2017, the monthly cap was reached on only one occasion, but it was reached every month since December, mainly due to lack of applicants for jobs from within the EU due to anxieties over Brexit, which forced employers to hire from outside the EU. But when the monthly limit was reached, visas were refused.

Indian doctors have long been the second largest group in the NHS, after those who qualified in the UK.

The Home Office said the announcement means that there will be no restriction on the numbers of doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route. By excluding doctors and nurses from the limit, more visas will be available for other highly skilled occupations, such as engineers, IT professionals and teachers.

Home secretary Sajid Javid, who promised to put in place a fairer immigration system instead of what is called the policy of ‘hostile environment’, said: “I recognise the pressures faced by the NHS and other sectors in recent months”.

“Doctors and nurses play a vital role in society and at this time we need more in the UK. That is why I have reviewed our skilled worker visa route. This is about finding a solution to increased demand and to support our essential national services”.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt added: “Overseas staff have been a vital part of our NHS since its creation 70 years ago. Today’s news sends a clear message to nurses and doctors from around the world that the NHS welcomes and values their skills and dedication”.

First Published: Jun 15, 2018 18:21 IST