The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has expressed concerns that increases in visa fees could be a significant deterrent to attracting overseas nurses.
Recently implemented changes, based on new government rules, has resulted in a fee hike of 15% for health and care visas.
With nearly 50% of new registrants with the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) coming from overseas, the RCN believes that these new rules could be a significant barrier to overseas nursing coming to the UK.
Applicants with sponsorship for up to three years must now pay £284, while those needing it for over three years will pay £551. The RCN argues that the actual cost of processing these visa applications for overseas candidates is just £129.
Pat Cullen, the RCN’s general secretary and chief executive, has expressed that these increased fees could make the UK less appealing to nurses and healthcare professionals who significantly contribute to the health and care sector.
Additionally, overseas nursing students will experience a £127 increase in application fees, bringing the total to £490. The cost of applying for settlement in the UK (indefinite leave to remain) is also set to rise by 20% to £2,885.
Nursing Times reported that Pat Cullen said: “Nurses and care workers, regardless of their country of origin, make a vital contribution to this country in both the care they provide and the taxes and National Insurance contributions they already pay. They deserve to be valued and recognised. Subjecting our much-needed internationally educated staff in the health and care sector to additional levies is not only unjust but divisive and short-sighted.”
The government has responded by acknowledging the substantial contribution of overseas NHS workers but highlights the need to review immigration policies to align with public priorities. They also pointed to the record-high number of nurses in the NHS and insisted that the health and care visa remains more affordable for eligible individuals in health and social care and their families compared to other visa types.
This article is based on an article by Nursing Times, which you can read here – www.nursingtimes.net/news/policies-and-guidance/nurse-leaders-urge-government-to-scrap-increase-in-visa-fees-06-10-2023