If you were not already aware, in 2015 a number of Immigration Rules were changed. In short, these changes mean that immigration to the UK has become more difficult. To further complicate the issue, appeal rights have also been cut back. However, there are benefits to the changes, especially for nurses. In this article, we want to focus on one major change in particular — one which affects immigrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who are nurses or have nursing degrees.

Nurses Now on the Shortage Occupation List

Thanks to issues raised by the Royal College of Nursing late last year, nurses have now been added to the Government’s Shortage Occupation List, which means that non-EU nurses are once again in demand at NHS (National Health Service) hospitals.

If you are a nurse from Australia, America, China, India, the Philippines, Canada, New Zealand or South Africa with a nursing degree, NMC PINS (or in process) and an overall IELTS score of 7.00 there a UK work permits on offer and jobs available via the NHS. Those who meet these standards and are applying for a Tier 2 visa will, in almost all cases, gain enough points under the Tier 2 points based system for immigration to the UK. Additionally, this now means that there are an unlimited number of Tier 2 General visas for nurses sponsored by an UK employer with a Tier 2 sponsorship licence.

It is also good news for EU nurses, as the cap normally applied to Tier 2 Working visas does not apply if an occupation is on the Shortage Occupation List.

How Nurses Can Apply for UK Immigration

If you are looking to apply, do bear in mind that you will still need an overall band score of 7.00 on an official IELTS test, as well as a minimum of one year of clinical experience. This is part of a new two-stage testing system implemented and regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Nurses from outside the EEA will have their applications prioritised. Once the NMC have all the completed documentation they aim to process applications from non-EU trained nurses within 70 days.

If you are fortunate enough to qualify, NHS hospitals are offering a Band 5 salary of approximately £25,000pa and will even provide assistance with accommodation for any qualifying nurses.

NHS Positions

Do remember that these are permanent positions which, according to NHS working practices, means nurses can enjoy full NHS benefits such as a pension scheme and paid holidays alongside excellent training. It is also worthwhile to remember that care workers from the EU are also needed for nursing homes and care agencies across the UK.

These changes also affect any non-EU nurses who were facing deportation for being over the six year limit and under a £35,000pa salary. Any non-UK nurses who don’t fit these criteria can now remain in the UK, and no longer have to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Call our solicitors

If you are worried about the recent change to UK Immigration Law, need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4 visas, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, Arlingsworth are here to help. Contact us today by phone on 01273 696 962 or email and we will get back to you as soon as we can