doctors and nurses from the current Tier 2 visa cap

Changes to the Immigration Rules for Doctors and Nurses – Tier 2 Visa Cap removed

A new statement has been published, exempting both doctors and nurses from the current Tier 2 visa cap. The stated change to the immigration rules will be enforced on Friday 6th July 2018 but it may not be permanent.

The cap, initially introduced by former Home Secretary of State, Theresa May was limited to 20,700 non-EU skilled workers per year.

The Financial Times had reported that 2,360 visa applications by doctors from outside the European Economic Area were refused in a five-month period, apparently because of the cap. Furthermore, an NHS Improvement report stated that in February, NHS England had 35,000 nurse vacancies and nearly 10,000 doctor vacancies unfilled.

In support of the change, The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid stated: “I recognise the pressures faced by the NHS and other sectors in recent months. Doctors and nurses play a vital role in society and at this time we need more in the UK. That is why I have reviewed our skilled worker visa route. This is about finding a solution to increased demand and to support our essential national services.”

What is the Government aiming to achieve?

  1. Removing medics from the Tier 2 quota (cap) will have the knock-on effect of freeing up places for other skilled non-EU workers, such as engineers, IT professionals and teachers.
  2. Reduce net migration to below 100,000 a year.
  3. Address the particular shortages and pressures facing in the NHS at this current time.


Speaking at the NHS Confederation’s annual conference in Manchester, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said training places for doctors, nurses and midwives were up by 25%. But he added: “In the period between now and when those training places convert into fully trained clinicians, the government should be flexible on visas. And that is why it is extremely welcome that today the prime minister has announced that doctors and nurses will be removed from the tier 2 visa caps.”

The Royal College of GPs said the cap had been “arbitrary, unhelpful and in fact quite destructive” and described excluding medics from it as a “great step forward”.

The Statement of Changes also refers to the following:

  1. Provisions for returning residents, including those affected by Windrush;
  2. Creating a route for Afghan locally engaged staff to apply for settlement in the UK;
  3. Creating a new settlement route for Turkish ECAA business persons, workers and their family members;
  4. Creating a new form of leave for people transferred to the UK under the Dubs amendment, who do not qualify for international protection; and
  5. Creating new provisions in the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category.

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The above is a summary of the announced changes. If you require specific advice on how these changes may affect you or your dependants, do not hesitate to contact our Business Immigration team on 020 3503 0880 or email us at