Around 6,000 international healthcare staff and scientists will be given free 12-month extensions as the NHS faces rising cases of coronavirus and hospitalisations across the country.
The news covers doctors, nurses, midwives and paramedics – among other professionals – whose visas are due to expire before the March 2021, as well as their children below the age of 18.
BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said ‘We’re glad that the Government has listened to the calls of the BMA by removing this unnecessary, bureaucratic and costly barrier to international healthcare staff continuing to offer their services and expertise here in the months ahead, during what is set to be an incredibly difficult winter.
‘Our international colleagues have worked tirelessly and selflessly during the pandemic, providing care and support as we all faced unprecedented challenges. This often came at the expense of their own health and wellbeing, and as we know, in too many cases, we have seen staff who came from overseas to look after people in this country tragically lose their own lives to COVID-19.’
Dr Nagpaul added: ‘We owe this vital group of staff a huge debt of gratitude and they should never have had to worry about their immigration status as they fought this virus on the front line.’
Home secretary Priti Patel said staff had made ‘huge contributions’ during the pandemic.
Those staff affected will have their visas extended for free but will be asked to fill in forms to prove their identities.
Earlier this year, after campaigning from the BMA, the Government made a similar decision extending the visas of international healthcare staff whose visas were due to expire between 31 March and 1 October.