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Latest immigration updates

We update our guidance regularly to help keep you up to speed with the latest changes. See whether new immigration rules will affect your work or training.


Helping treat Ebola
Doctors originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who are working in the UK

Following a request from the BMA, the Home Office has reaffirmed that the concessions made to the immigration rules during the previous outbreak of Ebola in West Africa will stand. This means that doctors currently working in the UK on a Tier 2 visa who are originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and who want to go back home to treat victims of Ebola, can do so without it causing problems with their UK visa. 

Read more about the assurances from the Home Office


Participate in the public test phase of the ‘settled status’ scheme

The UK Government has developed a scheme, called the ‘settled status’ scheme, for EU nationals to apply for residence in the UK after Brexit. The scheme will be fully open to all EU nationals resident in the UK from March 2019 onwards. 

On 21 January 2019, the UK Government launched a public test phase in which EU nationals and their non-EU national family members can apply for, and secure, settled status. Securing this new status will prove (for example, to employers or public service providers) that you have the right to continue to live and work in the UK, and to access public funds and services in the future.

This follows a number of earlier pilots throughout 2018, where EU nationals employed in the higher education, health and social care sectors applied under the scheme.

Find out more


The Immigration Health Surcharge doubled

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) was increased in January 2019. The increase impacts medical students and doctors applying for a Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa. Those on a Tier 2 visa will now be expected to pay £400 instead of £200 per year, and students and those on a Tier 5 visa will pay £300 instead of £150 per year. The IHS applies from the date the visa is granted until it expires.

We have tried to gain an exemption from the IHS on the basis that many migrants who do not have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK are working, paying tax and making National Insurance contributions. However, previously no exemptions have been granted to any groups. 

The fact the charge has doubled just adds further financial burden to the applicant. 


Participate in the 2nd stage pilot of the ‘settled status’ scheme

The UK Government has developed a scheme, called the ‘settled status’ scheme, for EU nationals to apply for residence in the UK after Brexit. The scheme will be open to all EU nationals resident in the UK from March 2019 onwards.

On 29 November 2019 however, the UK Government is launching a live trial in which EU nationals working in higher education and health and social care sector in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can apply for, and secure, settled status.

Find out more


Publication of immigration white paper

On 19 December 2018 the UK Government published its White Paper, setting out the principles that will underpin a future immigration system following the end of the implementation period in December 2020. The paper recommends that the same immigration system will apply to EEA nationals and non-EEA national workers and be phased in early 2021.

The government implemented the majority of the recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee report on EEA migration in the UK published in September 2018.

You can read the BMA response here


Doctors now exempt from the Tier 2 cap

In June 2018, doctors and nurses were temporarily excluded from the cap on skilled worker visas. This means there will be no restriction on the number of doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route. This followed a sustained campaign by the BMA where previously hundreds of doctors had been refused visas to work in the NHS because the monthly cap on Tier 2 visa had been reached. 

Find out more


Need for a criminal records check for doctors moving onto Tier 2 visas

For doctors who are applying for their first Tier 2 visa on or after 6 April 2017, if they are not already in the UK, they will need to include a criminal record certificate with their visa application, otherwise their visa application will be refused and they may lose their fee. The criminal records certificate will also need to be provided by any adult dependant of the Tier 2 migrant who are applying to enter the UK from 6 April 2017. This only applies if you are applying for entry clearance – if you are already in the UK, you don’t need to apply for a criminal records certificate.

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Immigration skills charge

The Immigration skills charge is due to be introduced from 6 April 2017. It means that any employer who wants to bring in a worker from outside the EU on a tier 2 visa will have to pay £1,000 for each year they need a certificate of sponsorship for that worker. So, for example, if a hospital wishes to employ a doctor on a Tier 2 visa for five years to come and work for them, the hospital trust would need to pay £5,000 up front when making the application for the certificate of sponsorship to UK Visas and Immigration.

We are concerned that not only is it not appropriate for NHS institutions to have to pay this charge out of public funds, but also that in some cases, employers may try to pass the charge on to employees.

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Brexit - new guidance for EU nationals working in the UK

The BMA has reaffirmed its commitment to working with our European partners, in the aftermath of the UK referendum.

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We have brought together all the work the BMA is doing on Brexit in one place.

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EU nationals currently living in the UK continue to have the right to live, study and work in the UK, as do their family members. Once an EU national has lived in the UK as a 'qualifying person' for five years, they and their family members have the right to register for permanent residence here, to give them reassurance and protection for the future.

We encourage all EU nationals currently in the UK who have been here for five years as a qualifying person to claim permanent residence to protect themselves and their family members.

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EU nationals who have been in the UK for less than five years should apply for a registration certificate to prove they are a qualified person who has been living in the UK for less than five years.

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If you need help with your application or have any queries, please email us or call one of our immigration advisers on 0300 123 1233