The Home Office has issued new guidance on eligibility and process for securing a one year visa extension for your NHS and frontline health workers. This is relevant to NHS and independent healthcare employers.

The categories of occupations that qualify has been expanded from doctors, nurses and paramedics to include:

  • 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

This extension policy applies to all visa holders in these occupations and is not limited to sponsored workers. Only employees with visas which are due to expire before 1 October 2020 are eligible. Those with visas which expire after this date will need to extend in the usual way under the rules and policy in place at the time.

The extension will be granted for one year from the expected expiry date of the visa. The employee’s family members can also qualify.

As an NHS or independent healthcare employer, you may wish to contact employees in these occupations to ensure they are aware the visa extension policy. If your employee wishes to extend, it will be for you, as the employer, to tell UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) which employees are eligible for an extension. The eligibility requirements are that the employee is in an eligible profession and that their visa is due to expire before 1 October 2020. A report can be provided to the UK Visas and Immigration NHS team UKVINHSTeam@homeoffice.gov.uk.

The one year visa extension is free and there is no immigration health surcharge to pay. If an employee has already submitted an extension, they can email the UKVI NHS team to withdraw their existing visa extension application and apply for a refund. They will not be able to do this they have already provided their biometrics (fingerprints and photo) as part of that application.

Once you receive the go ahead from UKVI, you can advise your employees to post their current biometric residence permits (BRPs) for them and their family members to UKVI. Alternatively, as their employer, you can send the BRPs to UKVI. These should be sent to UK Visas and Immigration PO Box 3468 Sheffield S3 8WA

UKVI will return the BRPs to you, the employer, after the visa has been extended for you to pass to the eligible employees.

If you need any support with this process or with immigration matters generally, please contact Emma Brooksbank at emma.brooksbank@freeths.co.uk.