A government scheme exempting overseas workers from visa fees for one year should be extended to include all frontline care staff and NHS employees, according to a leading trade union.
Unison has backing an amendment brought by MP Yvette Cooper to the Immigration Bill that would ensure many more staff – such as social care workers, hospital cleaners, healthcare assistants and porters – would not have to pay up to £3,000 to remain working on the COVID-19 frontline.
A campaign launched by Unison urging people to write to their MP to get the Bill changed coincides with the publication today (15 June) of a Home Affairs Select Committee report, which also calls for a visa scheme extension.
Only around 3,000 NHS workers – whose visas were due to expire before 1 October – currently qualify for the free extension announced in April by the Home Office.
Unison has also called on the government to grant key workers who have been on the COVID-19 frontline indefinite leave to remain.
‘It’s deeply unjust that thousands of care workers and NHS staff don’t qualify for this free scheme,’ said Unison’s general assistant secretary, Christina McAnea.
‘It’s a costly process reapplying and one that’s stressful at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic.
‘Many migrant workers are in a precarious position with their visas up for renewal during the crisis. They’re on the frontline looking after us – we must look after them too.’
Photo Credit – DarkoStojanovic (Pixabay)