Doctors and nurses from outside EU will be given visas to boost the NHS

Sajid Javid will ease a cap on foreign medics working in the UK to allow the NHS to recruit more staff

Sajid Javid is planning a major relaxation of immigration laws before Brexit and will ease a cap on foreign medics working in the UK to allow the NHS to recruit more staff.

The new Home Secretary will remove non-EU doctors and nurses from the annual 20,700 ‘tier 2’ visa limit on non-EU workers.

Other employers will be able to recruit an extra 8,000 skilled migrants a year, including IT experts, engineers and teachers, effectively raising the cap by 40 per cent.

The Home Secretary is expected to announce tomorrow that doctors and nurses from outside the EU will be exempt from the ‘tier 2’ visa cap to help the NHS fill staff shortages. 

Businesses will also be given a higher allocation, according to The Daily Telegraph. 

The move marks Mr Javid’s first major intervention on migration policy and a significant softening of the Government’s position on non-EU migration since Theresa May became Home Secretary in 2010.

Mr Javid is believed to favour a vision of Britain as a global country, open to business from beyond the EU after Brexit.

It is understood that Mrs May was persuaded to support a ‘time-limited’ exemption for doctors and nurses after Cabinet ministers wrote to her backing Mr Javid’s plan.

The NHS is facing a staffing crisis and Mr Javid is set to try to stop a drain of staff before and after Brexit

The NHS is facing a staffing crisis and Mr Javid is set to try to stop a drain of staff before and after Brexit

Mr Javid is also expected to launch the first review in five years of the professions that could qualify for visas, meaning that GPs, teachers and other skilled migrants could gain the right to enter the UK under tier 2 visas. 


Doctors have piled pressure on Sajid Javid to lift the cap warning of a ‘desperate need’ to ease pressures amid escalating patient demand.

In a letter to Mr Javid, the head of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said there were concerning cases where foreign GPs had been affected by the ‘hostile environment’ policies first introduced by Theresa May while she was at the Home Office.

The British Medical Journal has said that between December 2017 and March 2018 more than 1,500 visa applications from doctors with job offers in the UK were refused as a result of the cap on workers from outside the European Economic Area.

Sunder Katwala, director of the immigration think-tank British Future, said removing medical personnel from the visa cap would be a ‘sensible move’.

He said: ‘It never made sense to turn away doctors and nurses that the NHS needs. It also frees up Tier 2 visa places for other employers who need high-skilled staff to fill vacancies.

‘It’s the right short-term fix for 2018. In the longer term, Britain will need better training of doctors, engineers and others here in the UK, together with an immigration system that welcomes people with the skills we need.

‘But perhaps this is a sign that Home Secretary Sajid Javid is willing to take a bolder and more flexible approach to immigration, and deliver the kind of system that Britain will need after we leave the EU.’

The concession is likely to increase the pressure on the Prime Minister to abandon her target of reducing net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ and to remove students from official figures. Mrs May has consistently stated that the goal of Brexit is limit migration and has resisted calls to soften her position.

Leading Brexiteers, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, have argued that the Brexit vote was about taking ‘control’ of who should be granted entry the UK, rather than simply slashing numbers.

Ministers are yet to begin detailed discussions on post-Brexit immigration strategies, but there is a growing suspicion that it is unlikely to be as strict as first thought.

Former Chancellor George Osborne, an ally of Mr Javid when in Government, claimed last year that the entirety of Mrs May’s Cabinet was opposed to her net migration target.

But a Government source told The Daily Telegraph that reform is part of a ‘long-term’ plan for the NHS. 

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Javid is understood to have warned that an increase in the number of doctors recruited from outside the EU has meant the cap for all skilled workers – which is set at 20,700 people a year – has been breached in every month since December.

It is believed the Home Secretary stressed the new policy did not alter his ‘position on net migration’. He said the aim of Government policy should be to train more British doctors.

It is believed Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, Greg Clark, the Business Secretary and Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary have written to the Prime Minister in support of Mr Javid.