24 Nov 2020: Coronavirus: UK government extends work visas for Indian, foreign doctors
The coronavirus pandemic, which is ripping apart the globe, prompted the British government to extend work visas for foreign doctors and nurses, including those from India, for another year.
This extension applies to those whose visas were set to expire by March 31, 2021.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said the country recognizes and appreciates the contribution of overseas healthcare workers in this crisis.
Numbers: Nearly 6,000 workers will reap benefits
This extension will cover healthcare workers, working with the National Health Service (NHS) as well as the independent health and care sector.
"We truly value the work these heroes are doing, which is why we're renewing our free 12-month visa extension offer. We estimate this will benefit a further 6,000 dedicated frontline workers and their families who deserve our support and our gratitude," Patel said.
Eligibility : The eligible workers have to merely fill a form
For the extension, the healthcare workers won't be charged anything — their Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will also be covered.
Those who are eligible for this extension have to fill an online form, meant to ascertain their identities. Their employers will be asked to confirm their eligibility.
This measure, a rare move by the British government, was announced by UK Home Office last Friday.
Reaction: UK Health Secretary also expressed gratitude to dedicated healthcare professionals
The UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this decision will help professionals who have shown utmost dedication to protect Britain's families from the virus.
Separately, the government said this decision is just one part of varied measures taken to show support toward the NHS.
Earlier, the government said professionals, whose works visas would expire between October and March, can get a free extension.
Count: Over 55,000 have died of coronavirus in UK
Separately, the Bereavement Scheme, which gives permanent UK residency to the kin of overseas medical professionals, who died after contracting the virus, was widened to include all of NHS, health, and social care workers, reports PTI.
The UK has 1,527,495 coronavirus cases and 55,230 deaths, making it the seventh-worst hit nation.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also contracted the disease but has recovered now.