Relaxation of Tier 2 visa rules will allow more doctors to come to the UK

Relaxation of Tier 2 visa rules will allow more doctors to come to the UK
It’s been reported that the Tier 2 visa rules are to be relaxed imminently to allow more doctors to come to the UK to fill posts in hospitals and GP surgeries. The announcement is expected to be made at the end of the week, following intensive lobbying of the Prime Minister, Theresa May, by both the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the Hoe Secretary Sajid Javid.
 
Why have doctors been unable to fill posts in the UK?
 
The staffing crisis in the NHS has been in the headlines for many months, and the Tier 2 visa rules have been a significant part of the problem, as an of the best immigration solicitors in London will tell you. Theresa May introduced an annual cap on the number of sponsorship certificates that could be issued by licensed organisations under the Tier 2 visa route. The cap of 20,700 Tier 2 visas seemed to be justified initially, but as immigration solicitors have noticed, and as has been widely reported, since December 2017, the demand for Tier 2 visas has outstripped availability, with the health sector being particularly hard hit. The Guardian has recently reported on the situation in Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Hospital Trust which illustrates how the changing dynamics of the Tier 2 visa route have impacted. Chief Executive, Andrew Foster explained:
 
Last year we got 60 doctors and we had no trouble with visas. This year, [during] the first two months we were denied all visas and in the latest round we have been successful in less than 10 cases out of the 100 [they had applied for].”
 
Figures reported in the Financial Times recently show that since December 2017, 2,360 visa applications by doctors from outside the European Economic Area have been refused.
 
Many NHS Trusts have been unable to fill posts from within the UK, and with Brexit looming ever closer, there has been less interest in UK-based health care posts from qualified doctors who are EU and EEA nationals. The NHS has looked abroad to recruit but has had to compete with other sectors also keen to recruit from outside the EEA. Although some medical roles have found their way onto the Shortage Occupation List, the list has not been dynamic enough to respond to the NHS crisis and allow recruitment from abroad to fill critical roles. The NHS has also suffered in trying to recruit for doctors under the Tier 2 Visa route because salaries are generally lower than those in other sectors. The result has been posts left unfilled, and the NHS having to pay over the odds for locums to fill positions on a short term basis.
 
What will the change in Tier 2 visa rules involve?
 
The reports are that doctors and nurses will be excluded from the 20,700 cap. This means that NHS trusts should be free to recruit from abroad, although there will clearly be separate arrangements put in place to manage the migration of medical staff, however vital they are to the UK and the NHS. Although it will only be doctors and nurses taken out of the cap, this will free up more Tier 2 visas for other industries, such as the Tech industry which has also been hit hard recently by the cap.
 
How do the Tier 2 visa rules work?
 
The Tier 2 skilled worker visa route allows employing organisations in the UK to issue certificates of sponsorship to individuals who have been successful in obtaining Employment in the UK with that organisation. Employing organisations must be licenced to issue sponsorship certificates and must comply with a clear set of rules and procedures on an ongoing basis. Employing organisations must demonstrate that, in most cases, there is no suitable individual to take up the position in the settled workforce. There are also rules about the minimum salary that a skilled worker must be paid in order to qualify for a Tier 2 visa. It’s a process that’s familiar to the best immigration lawyers in London but can be confusing to an organisation that finds itself needing to recruit from outside the EEA for the first time, and it’s worth taking the time to find the best immigration solicitors you can afford to assist with the process.
 
We will be watching the news carefully and will bring you updates as we hear them, hopefully confirming that doctors and nurses will be taken out of the Tier 2 route, and news of the new arrangements that will apply.
 
OTS Solicitors has many years’ experience of all aspects of immigration law and our top immigration solicitors in London regularly advise employing organisations on becoming a Tier 2 sponsoring organisation, and on all aspects of the process, including how the Resident Labour Market Test works in practice. TO book an appointment with one of our team of immigration lawyers, call us on 0203 959 9123
 

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