Bri­tain to let in more non-eu doc­tors

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTINSIGHT - Pra­sun Son­walkar

LON­DON: The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment is set to an­nounce a re­lax­ation of visa rules for doc­tors and nurses from In­dia and other non-eu coun­tries on Friday to meet ma­jor short­ages in the Na­tional Health Ser­vice (NHS).

Home sec­re­tary Sa­jid Javid is ex­pected to con­firm for­eign doc­tors and nurses will be ex­cluded from the gov­ern­ment’s visa cap, BBC re­ported. A cap on all non-eu skilled work­ers, in­tro­duced by Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May when she was home sec­re­tary in 2011, sets a limit of 20,700 peo­ple a year. The Labour Party de­scribed the ex­pected an­nounce­ment as a “wel­come U-turn” and NHS of­fi­cials said it would be a “huge re­lief”.

In April, NHS of­fi­cials warned that im­mi­gra­tion rules were ham­per­ing their abil­ity to find work­ers af­ter visas for 100 In­dian doc­tors were re­fused. NHS Eng­land had 35,000 nurse va­can­cies and al­most 10,000 doc­tor posts un­filled in Fe­bru­ary.

Re­ports of the change in visa rules emerged af­ter sev­eral cases of In­di­ans re­fused per­ma­nent stay by the Home Of­fice by us­ing a rule to keep out crim­i­nals fig­ured in Par­lia­ment on Wednesday. The gov­ern­ment de­fended the re­fusals while re­view­ing the Tier 1 visa route.

Af­ter four demon­stra­tions by In­dian and other non-eu pro­fes­sion­als out­side Par­lia­ment since Jan­uary, the de­bate in West­min­ster Hall saw mem­bers rais­ing con­cerns that Sec­tion 322 (5) of im­mi­gra­tion rules was be­ing used to refuse their ap­pli­ca­tions.

The rea­son most cited to refuse has been ap­pli­cants rec­ti­fy­ing tax re­turns and dis­crep­an­cies in in­come men­tioned to tax au­thor­i­ties and to the Home Of­fice, which is al­legedly con­strued by of­fi­cials as ex­am­ples of dis­hon­esty.

Im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter Caro­line Nokes de­fended the re­fusals while re­spond­ing to the de­bate, but said a re­view was un­der­way to en­sure there were no wrong re­fusals fol­low­ing con­cerns raised by MPS and oth­ers.

She said: “I want to be very clear…we are not re­fus­ing peo­ple for mak­ing mi­nor tax er­rors. We are cer­tainly not say­ing they are ter­ror­ists…we do not have a pol­icy of re­fus­ing peo­ple for mak­ing mi­nor tax er­rors. On the on­go­ing re­view, Nokes said there were 281 cases in the first phase and 1,671 in the sec­ond.

(With in­puts from agen­cies)

IS­TOCK­PHOTO

Bet­ter pill.

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