It is proposed that an application will cost £65 and £32.50 for a child under 16. For those who already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation, they will be able to exchange it for settled status for free.
The new online application system will be accessible through phones, tablets, laptops and computers. The Government will provide support for the vulnerable and those without access to a computer and continues to work with EU citizens’ representatives and embassies to ensure the system works for everyone.
The settlement scheme will open in a phased way from later this year and will be fully open by 30 March 2019. The deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021.
The Home Secretary, Mr Sajid Javid said the government's "default" position would be to grant, not refuse, settled status.
The scheme will operate online and via a smartphone app, Mr Javid said, and would be "as simple as people can reasonably expect", with most decisions turned around within two weeks or sooner.
One of the important changes to the immigration rules introduced today is the exclusion of NHS Doctors and Nurses from the Tier 2 (General) Visa UK annual cap.
Under the new rule, there will be no restriction on the number of doctors and nurses granted visas through the Tier 2 (General) route. Applicants coming under the Tier 2 (General) Visa UK route will be eligible to apply for ILR Visa UK after completion of five years. The Home Office said around 40% of Tier 2 (General) Visa UK were granted to the NHS staff.
Applications made via the Tier 2 (General) Visa UK route, which has had an annual cap of 20,700 since 2011, have in recent months exceeded the allocation of visas.
According to the Financial Times, 2,630 visa applications from doctors outside the European Economic Area (EEA) were refused in a five-month period, despite crippling staff shortages across the NHS. And in April 2018, NHS bosses warned that immigration rules were hampering their ability to find workers after visas for 100 Indian doctors were refused.
According to an NHS Improvement report, NHS England had 35,000 nurse vacancies and nearly 10,000 doctor posts could not be filled in February.
Home secretary Sajid Javid said: “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.”
The plans mean more visa allocations will be freed-up places a month for other highly skilled workers, such as engineers, IT professionals and teachers.
Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association council, said: “It will be a relief to patients and staff across the NHS that common sense has finally prevailed and the tier 2 visa restrictions on non-EU doctors and nurses are to be lifted. This represents a victory for the BMA, medical bodies and patients who have argued that this obstructive cap was doing real damage to patient services across the country.”
The bosses of 35 NHS have accused the immigration authorities of putting patients at risk.
Immigration rules are hampering the ability of the NHS to recruit doctors, health leaders are warning. Recently, visas for 100 Indian doctors were refused owing to visa cap by the Home Ministry for non-EU workers. The doctors had been recruited as part of a long-running scheme in the North West which supplies junior doctors to more than 30 NHS trusts. NHS bosses say increasing numbers of doctors are being refused permission, worsening rota gaps and the waits patients face for treatment. The NHS is already short of doctors, with a report from the regulator NHS Improvement warning one in 11 posts was vacant. In February, NHS Improvement said that there were 100,000 vacancies across England's 234 acute, ambulance and mental health trusts.
Blocked visas due to non-EU worker cap
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said he had heard of another 400 cases of blocked visas since December. "We have examples of clinics being cancelled and delays in terms of patients receiving care. It exacerbates pressures in what are relatively small medical teams.” It is unclear exactly why this has happened. There is evidence in the NHS that it is getting harder to recruit and retain EU staff, putting pressure on non-EU sources.The skilled worker cap applies to all sectors so the numbers the NHS can recruit is also influenced by other sectors from IT to banking. Nurses have been placed on the shortage occupation list, which means they are given a priority in international recruitment.
Home Ministry defends
A Home Office spokeswoman said the system was in the "national interest".
She said any Tier 2 applications - as they are known - which are refused in oversubscribed months could reapply in future ones. And she added there were a range of specialities, including A&E and radiology, that were on the shortage occupation list too.
Meanwhile, NHS leaders have written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking them to urgently look into the problem.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London this week. It has been the first in 9 years and it gives hope for stronger trade relations between India and the UK post brexit. Modi’s bilateral visit to the UK, in which a range of issues - including immigration, technology cooperation and education will be discussed. The two meetings held by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May will be seen as part of the efforts by Britain to forge closer ties with India and its ability to secure lucrative post-Brexit trade deals.
The Commonwealth Business Forum
The Commonwealth Business Forum, which will bring together business leaders and political figures from across the Commonwealth, would explore ways of raising intra-Commonwealth trade from around $525 billion in 2015 to around $700 billion by 2020, alongside looking at some of the contemporary challenges and opportunities around technology, skills and protectionism.
MoU on return of illegal immigrants
A memorandum of understanding on the return of illegal migrants to India will be formally signed. It was previously agreed upon and relating to an issue that Britain has repeatedly raised. However, it remains to be seen whether any moves will be made to respond to Indian concerns about Britain’s immigration regime - which India has repeatedly stressed, is key to the future relationship between both the countries.
Diaspora events and Ayurveda Research Centre
With an Indian diaspora of around 1.4 million, Modi’s visit will attract a lot of attention. A number of rallies - both to protest and support Modi - are being planned during and ahead of the visit. He will also meet Prince Charles and the Queen and attend a diaspora event in London. Apart from the immigration memorandum, Modi also plans to discuss the setting up of an Ayurveda research Centre in the UK.
In a statement, the new Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said: “These new measures are part of our commitment to make it more difficult for people with no right to live or work in the UK to remain here.”
She added: “This will not affect those who live in the UK legally but we must be firm with those who break the rules as illegal immigration impacts the whole of society.”
The Home Office said it was only sharing details of illegal migrants who are liable for deportation from the UK, or who have absconded from immigration control. People with outstanding applications or appeals will not be affected – including asylum seekers – nor will those who have been granted leave to be in the UK, including refugees.
This measure to crackdown illegal immigrants has been criticised by campaigners. Chai Patel, legal policy director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, claimed the Home Office frequently makes mistakes determining immigration status.