Last reviewed 12 April 2021

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced that thousands of crucial frontline health workers and their dependents are to be granted free one-year visa extensions.

These will be automatically granted to eligible overseas health and care workers whose visas were due to expire before 1 October 2021.

Since starting the free extensions last year, the Home Office has extended the visas of more than 10,000 people across the UK and it is expected that the latest announcement will benefit a further 14,000 applicants.

This will mean that doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives, occupational therapists, psychologists and others will be able to continue their crucial work in the fight against coronavirus, the Home Secretary said.

The extension will cover healthcare professionals working in the NHS and the independent health and care sector. Their visas will be extended for a year, free of all fees and charges, including the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Those benefiting from this extension will need to complete a simple online form to verify their identity, the Home Secretary explained, with their employers asked to confirm their eligibility.

She highlighted that the Health and Care Visa, which was launched last August, makes it easier, cheaper and quicker for the best global health professionals to work in the NHS, the social care sector and for those organisations which provide commissioned services to the NHS.

“The dedication and skill of overseas health and care workers who are leading the UK’s fight against coronavirus is truly extraordinary,” Ms Patel said. “Thousands of them have helped save countless lives throughout this pandemic and are now playing a vital part in the hugely successful vaccination rollout. Our offer of free visa extensions shows how our country values the contributions of these heroes.”