Royal College of Nursing Representing nurses and nursing, promoting excellence in practice, shaping health policies

Government reform of UK immigration policy – have your say!

In the light of Brexit, the UK government has announced that it will be offering “settled status” for EU nationals who are already in the UK or who arrive during the transition period, once they have been here for five years or more.   

The application process which is designed to be simple and presumes eligibility, rather than requiring multiple forms of proof, is being trialled in Trusts and Universities in the North West of England currently.

However, the Government is also reviewing the whole immigration system and what this should look like for EU and non-EU nationals after Brexit. This will obviously have implications for nursing as the UK wants to continue to recruit European and international nurses into health and social care, in part to address shortages.  Despite some drop off, about 5% of those currently on the Nursing and Midwifery Council register trained in the European Union and internationally trained nurses make up about 10% of the register.

The UK Government is due to issue a White Paper on immigration in the autumn, after the Home Office’s Migration Advisory Committee has reported on the impact of EU migration in the UK and made its recommendations.

The RCN is developing proposals for reform ahead of the White Paper.  To date we have identified a number of priority requirements for any future immigration system, presented to the Home Affairs Committee in July and outlined in our briefing, see: Our international work.

This includes ensuring the systems supports  the education, recruitment and retention of the nursing workforce as a whole, removing the arbitrary cap on working visas, and rebalancing current focus on salary levels to priorities Tier 2 visas, to include better recognition of the value of public sector roles, including nursing. 

However, the RCN has not yet formulated its position on the detail of future immigration arrangements. 

We are keen to have your views to help us shape the Government’s reforms and identify what currently works well/badly and what improvements you would like to see. 

You can feed back until 1 October 2018 in our short online survey, or, if preferred, we are happy to take direct telephone feedback on the questions. See: Shape the UK's post-Brexit immigration system.

Susan Williams

Senior International Manager
RCN Policy & Public Affairs (UK & International)

Page last updated - 03/08/2019