Nurses to be Removed from Shortage Occupations List
The NHS across the UK should no longer recruit junior nurses from abroad, the government has announced, as it removes general nursing from the shortage occupation list.
As reported by Immigration Matters on 4th July, the Home Office has now officially announced that general nursing is being taken off the Home Office ‘shortage occupation’ list, from 14 August 2006, although some senior and specialised jobs will remain.
The move will hit the private sector making it far more difficult to obtain work permits for much needed foreign nurses. Care homes in many parts of the country still find it difficult to recruit staff locally.
Existing overseas nurses may find it harder to renew or extend their work permits and could even end up having to leave the UK. The NHS has already stopped renewing contracts for some overseas staff and thousands more could be affected as the cash crises deepens.
In April 2006, the government increased the length of time to qualify for residency from four to five years (see www.immigrationmatters.co.uk – archives). Thousands of nurses already building new lives in the UK are going to be caught in the net while trying to extend their work permits and may never reach five years.
What should you do if you are affected?
For existing nurses holding work permits, nothing will change until you come to renew your work permit and visa. The government has announced that existing work permit holders will be unaffected by the change. However, the employer still has to give a reason for employing an overseas worker when extending a work permit.
The important this is to make sure your visa does not expire before extending or applying for a new work permit.
Employers will need to advertise the post before applying for any new work permits for nurses, just like they do for Senior Carers.
Upgrade your skills
Under the new points-based system being introduced over the next two years, nurses will no longer automatically qualify for a work permit and will have to meet other stringent criteria. Although not directly connected to the new system, this latest change does fit in with the government’s longer term managed migration strategy of allowing only highly skilled migrants to settle in the UK.
The message is clear. If you want to settle in the UK, you will need to upgrade your skills and qualifications to meet the new standards. The best form of job security is to be indispensable to your employer by becoming an expert in your field.
For regular immigration updates see www.immigrationmatters.co.uk