Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has today reacted to reports that the Home Office will be taking accepting doctor and nurse job offers, from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), out of the Tier 2 visa cap, stating that “common sense has prevailed”. Mr Zeichner has cautiously welcomed the news that doctors and nurses will no longer be subject to the Tier 2 visa cap, while stating that he “remains disappointed with the overall immigration system – this move is too little, too late, and will mean engineers and teachers, still bound by this senseless cap, feel pretty disappointed”.
Mr Zeichner said: “Earlier this year I asked the Immigration Minister in the House of Commons whether she agreed that the Tier 2 visa system is broken, after our own Cambridge hospital was denied visas for the staff they’d recruited from overseas, because the monthly visa cap had been met. It seemed absolutely absurd that this was happening while our NHS is in desperate need for more doctors and nurses. Finally, common sense has prevailed and these health professionals will now be exempt from these aggressive visa restrictions, but this won’t be of much comfort to the thousands of patients across the country who have had operations cancelled this year. Many MPs were talking about this six months ago – the delay is not acceptable.”
“I hope that the Home Office takes a look at other sectors struggling with staff shortages, such as engineers and the tech sector, and applies the same approach. If the country needs workers in order to deliver for the economy, why are we imposing harsh and hostile restrictions? With our relationship with Europe uncertain, businesses and industry need clarity on how they can plug staff shortages and this announcement is not enough.”
Currently, visas for doctor and nurses from outside the EEA are subject to restrictive Tier 2 visa caps with many hospitals facing difficulties hiring medical staff, despite the desperate need. In recent months, Mr Zeichner questioned whether the current Tier 2 visa cap was fit-for-purpose after being contacted by consultants from Addenbrooke’s Hospital, who explained that the Intensive Care Unit was unable to hire medical staff due to the UK reaching its monthly limit.
This announcement is expected from the Home Office this Friday (15 June) and will free up an additional 8,000 visas for other skilled sectors. Currently, the Tier 2 visa scheme allows for 20,700 non-European skilled workers to accept jobs in the UK each year, however the monthly limit is filled very quickly, preventing key sectors to hire desperately needed staff.