The Conservative Party will introduce new immigration rules for migrants entering the UK to work in the NHS if it wins the election.
Under proposals announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel, migrants will be able to apply for an ‘NHS Visa’. The visa will give health workers priority in several areas as part of a new ‘points-based’ immigration system.
The Conservatives say the NHS Visa will:
- Give applicants a decision on approval within two weeks
- Cost £464 – half the cost of a current work visa
- Exempt holders from paying the immigration health surcharge upfront
The visa will be available before the full roll out of the new immigration system, planned for 2021.
Priti Patel said: “These measures are part of our plan for an Australian-style points-based immigration system that allows us to control numbers while remaining open to vital professions like nurses.
“That means the best of both worlds – attracting talent from around the world so our NHS continues to provide brilliant service while ensuring that it isn’t put under strain by opening Britain’s borders to the entire world.”
Labour’s shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott accused the policy of being “full of holes”.
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Abbott said: “The Tories are tying themselves in knots over immigration. They use dog whistle anti-migrant rhetoric but are forced to accept we need migrant workers for key sectors, not just the NHS, but many more besides.
“This policy is full of holes, with nothing to say about the nurses earning below their income threshold, as well as all the cooks, cleaners, hospital porters and others who are vital to hospitals, and nothing at all about their right to bring family members here.
“Labour’s immigration policy is rational and fair and will prioritise attracting the people we need, and treat them as human beings.”