Let's give coronavirus heroes the right to stay

November 11, 2020 10:00 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Like the rest of our wonderful NHS and care staff, thousands of people from other countries have been on the frontline throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign nationals working in the NHS deserve the right to remain in the UK.

We cannot thank them enough for the brave and tireless work they are doing in such difficult circumstances and under such intense pressure.

By protecting us, they've put themselves at risk - with many paying the ultimate price.

Their skills have been vital to all of us, this year more than ever, which is why Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to give all foreign nationals working in the NHS and social care indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

This would be a small way to recognise and celebrate the enormous contributions that people from all over the world make to our public services and our society more broadly.

Those who have risked their lives for our country should be welcome to live in it.

Currently, the Government has only granted 1-year visa extensions for around 3,000 health and care staff who had visas due to expire before 1st October 2020. This isn't good enough.

Not only does this exclude key workers such as hospital porters, cleaners and social care workers, but - for the small number who have been given a 1-year extension - they will be forced to pay £700 for their renewed visa or must otherwise leave the country.

It is completely unacceptable that anyone working on the frontline and putting themselves in harm's way during the coronavirus crisis should have to worry about whether or not their visa will be extended.

The UK should say, loudly and unequivocally, that those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it. They and their families should be granted the right to settle here, without the costs or bureaucratic hurdles that usually involves.