After a lengthy wait, which left many European Union (EU) nurses working in the UK very concerned about their future, there’s now much greater clarity for these nurses and their families about their right to remain after the UK has left the EU.
Without doubt it’s excellent news that there’s a commitment to a simple and streamlined process for health care workers who wish to stay in the UK. And those who already have the right to permanent residence will have a quick, free of charge way to convert to the new status.
Reciprocal health care arrangements will continue to apply for UK nationals residing in another EU country and for EU nationals here too.
In addition, mutual recognition of qualifications will continue to apply to nurses who’ve already had their qualifications recognised. Those in the process of registering at the cut-off date) for the UK to withdraw from the EU (likely to be 29 March 2019) will also be recognised. This is good news. The RCN as a member of the Cavendish Coalition argued this should be as late as possible.
While I hope this will give reassurance to the 165,000 EU health and social care workers currently living here, there’s still work to do. We’re now calling for any future immigration system to use public service value to assess skill levels and set entry requirements, rather than earnings. And I would like to see more protection for the families of non-European family members in the event of a relationship breakdown or death.
It will be interesting to see what the White Paper will say in the new year. My hope is for an effortless and painless system to be put in place so we send the essential message that EU nursing staff are welcome – and very much needed in the UK.
Find out more about the support you can get from the RCN immigration advice service.
Read Status of EU citizens in the UK: what you need to know on the gov.uk website.
The RCN is a member of the Cavendish Coalition which lobbies on post-EU referendum matters.