Monday, 1 June 2020

Campaign reply: 'Automatic UK Citizenship'

Thanks to those constituents who have been in touch with regard to the campaign for foreign national NHS and social care staff working in the UK through the Covid-19 crisis to receive automatic UK citizenship.

The government recognises how valuable NHS and social care staff from overseas are to the UK, which is why we have committed to extending visas for health and social care workers and their families for a year. Health and social care with visas due to expire before 1st October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year, free of charge.

All NHS and social care workers will also be exempt from paying the health immigration surcharge currently charged to non-EU migrants. The purpose of the NHS surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives. NHS and care workers from abroad who are granted visas are doing this already by the fantastic contribution which they make, which is why all NHS workers – as well as independent health workers and social care workers – will now be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge. Work by Government is now underway on how to implement the change and full details will be announced in the coming days

By giving them the peace of mind that they do not need to apply for a visa extension or pay this health immigration surcharge, this will allow those at the frontline to focus fully on combatting coronavirus and saving lives.

Additionally, if any NHS staff or social care workers sadly lose their life to Covid-19 their families will be granted indefinite leave to remain, free of charge. Every death is a tragedy and very sadly, some NHS staff and social care workers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of saving the lives of others. This is being implemented immediately, and retrospectively, to ensure no bereaved families will be forced from their home.

The government is continuing to review how we can best support frontline NHS workers during this crisis, and how best to recognise the immense dedication and sacrifices all these staff have made through this global health crisis.

The new Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill introduced in March will also pave the way for a more flexible, firmer, fairer and simpler immigration system. It will also make it easier and quicker for medical professionals around the world to work in the NHS through a new fast-track NHS visa.

All citizens, regardless of where they were born, living in Cornwall and the UK are valued members of our community. Those who have been working on the frontline during this crisis, especially those in the NHS and social care, have my immense gratitude and support and I will continue to advocate for further recognition and support.