Home Secretary asked to extend visa scheme to social care workersType: News
Topic: Coronavirus | Immigration | Volunteering
Published on: 25th April 2020
Whilst we were very heartened to hear that, as part of the national effort to combat coronavirus, doctors, nurses and paramedics will automatically have their visas extended, free of charge, for one year. However, this very welcome initiative has not been extended to include the social care sector. It also excludes the volunteers who currently work in the social care sector under Tier 5 visa arrangements, and those working in the sector with Tier 2 (General) visas.
This is a particularly important issue for our members, the 11 Camphill communities in Scotland who look after around 650 people with learning disability and other support needs. There are currently around 58 international volunteers in Scotland living in Camphill communities. Some volunteers’ visas run out at the end of this month and many of them would be glad to stay. The Home Office, however, has extended their visas only until the end of May – clearly signalling that the intention is to have them leave as soon as travel restrictions are eased. This seems short-sighted because the coronavirus will impact on the willingness and ability of volunteers to come to the UK for many months if not years to come.
Dr Neil Henery, Director of Camphill Scotland, said:
We urge the Home Secretary to extend visas for frontline social care workers in the same way she has done for those working in the NHS – for one year free of charge. Our international volunteers help to look after around 650 people with learning disabilities in Scotland.
With their visas running out all they have been offered is a one month extension. Many would be very glad to stay and continue to support vulnerable people at this critical time. We should be doing everything we can to help them do so.
Many other social care organisations will be affected if visas for social care workers are not temporarily extended, and our call has the support of The Health and Social Care Alliance for Scotland, CCPS, SCVO and Volunteer Scotland.
Our specific requests include:
- That all social care workers, including volunteers, with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020 should have them automatically extended for one year free of charge
- That written reassurance should be given to those who are unable to take up their role due to the crisis that this will not impact on the length of time they are able to volunteer when finally they are able to take up their roles
Contact our Policy & Engagement Manager, Robert McGeachy, for more information.