Home Secretary Priti Patel (Photo: Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In a relief to thousands of frontline health workers and their dependents, the government on Friday (April 9) announced an extension of their visas for a year, free of all fees and charges.

Making the announcement, home secretary Priti Patel said thousands of crucial frontline health workers and their dependents would will be granted the free visa extension.

She added that the visa extensions will be automatically granted to eligible overseas health and care workers whose visas were due to expire before October 1, 2021.

Since starting the free extensions last year, the Home Office has extended the visas of more than 10,000 people across the UK. It is expected that today’s announcement will benefit a further 14,000 applicants.

This extension will cover healthcare professionals working in the NHS and the independent health and care sector.

Those benefiting from this extension will need to complete a simple online form to verify their identity. We will also ask their employers to confirm their eligibility.

“This will mean that doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives, occupational therapists, psychologists and others will be able to continue their crucial work in the fight against coronavirus,” the Home Office said in an announcement.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our overseas health and care workers make such a vital contribution to our health system and have been a key part of fight against the pandemic. They are protecting our loved ones and vaccinating the public so that we can save lives and return to normality.

“To help those staff from overseas, we are extending their visas to provide security while they continue to tackle this virus.”

Home secretary Patel said: “The dedication and skill of overseas health and care workers who are leading the UK’s fight against coronavirus is truly extraordinary.

“Thousands of them have helped save countless lives throughout this pandemic and are now playing a vital part in the hugely successful vaccination rollout.

“Our offer of free visa extensions shows how our country values the contributions of these heroes.”

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