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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced a new Health and Care Visa to make it cheaper, quicker and easier for healthcare professionals from around the world to come to the UK.

Launching this summer, with healthcare professionals being able to apply from August, the new visa will create a fast-track route for health and care professionals around the world to work in the UK and support the nation’s health and care services. It will apply to eligible roles within the health and care sector.

The UK Government has also announced further details on how the exemption to the Immigration Health Surcharge will work for health and care staff, who will now be permanently exempt from this charge.

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According to DHSC, the Health and Care Visa is designed to make it easier and quicker for the best global health professionals to work in the NHS, for NHS commissioned service providers, and in eligible occupations in the social care sector.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We are indebted to overseas health and care professionals for their tremendous contributions, not just in saving thousands of lives throughout this crisis, but for the vital role they play year-round.

“This new visa is part of our new immigration system making it quicker, cheaper and easier for the best and brightest health and care professionals from around the globe to work in our brilliant NHS.”

In addition, the new visa will come with a reduced visa application fee compared to that paid by other so-called “skilled workers”, including exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Health and care professionals applying on this route can also expect a decision on whether they can work in the UK within just three weeks, following biometric enrolment. Those working in health and social care who do not qualify for the Health and Care Visa will still be able to claim a reimbursement from the Immigration Health Surcharge if they have paid this on or after the 31st of March, the government adds.

The UK Government says the new health and Care Visa shows its gratitude to health and care workers from overseas, particularly in health and care professionals’ efforts in fighting against coronavirus.

DHSC notes that it is also working closely with the sector to support and recognise the contributions of care workers. This includes a widespread focus on training and introducing a proper career structure to provide opportunities for those in the sector and makes it an attractive profession for prospective carers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously announced that health and social care workers will be permanently exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge going forward, and Immigration Health Surcharge payments made since 31st of March will also be refunded.

As part of the launch of the Health and Care Visa, those who apply via the visa, and their dependants, will be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge.

The UK Government has began refunding Immigration Health Surcharge payments for any healthcare professionals on Tier 2 visas who have paid since 31st of March 2020 and confirms this process will continue.

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