The UK Government permits non-EU workers who are skilled and have been sponsored by an organisation in the UK to come and work under the Tier 2 (General) visa category. An annual cap of 20,700 exists on non-EU workers wishing to enter the UK under the Tier 2 (General) category. This cap does not apply to those persons coming to work from a parent company overseas or where the job is on the Government’s shortage occupation list. Until now, nurses have not been on the shortage occupation list.
Due to the widespread shortage of nurses, the category is now being added to the Government’s shortage occupation list as an interim measure.
As a result, nurses applying to come in from outside the EEA will have their applications prioritised and the cap will not apply to them. Earlier the same week, the Government had set out plans to cap the amount being spent on agency nurses who were being paid rates of up to £2,200 per shift because of the gaps in some places.
The change has been brought about not least because of a number of appeals from NHS England and a number of health service watchdogs, including the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Janet Davies, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “This reversal is a real victory for nurses, the health service and most of all patients. Since the RCN first raised this issue and lobbied for a change to the immigration rules, a consensus has formed across the health service that cutting the supply of overseas nurses risked patient care.”
The Migrant Advisory Committee is currently reviewing this and is expected to provide a report in February 2016. The announcement is in contrast to the Home Secretary’s other announcement where she revealed plans to tighten mass immigration and be tough on those who abuse asylum rules.