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Overseas pharmacists and pre-regs included in visa extension scheme

Overseas pharmacists and working pre-registration students are eligible for an immediate free extension to their visas, the Home Office has announced.

Pharmacists – including those working in community pharmacy – who are on a working visa due to expire before October 1 2020, “will receive an automatic one-year extension”, which will also apply to their family members, the Home Office said earlier this week (April 29).

Frontline NHS workers, including pharmacists, midwives, radiographers and social workers will not be asked to pay the immigration health surcharge “for the duration of the exemption”, the Home Office added.

The visa extension also applies to pre-registration pharmacists “who are in employment, which fulfils the requirements for a tier 2 visa”, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said yesterday (April 30), after it received confirmation of that from the Department of Health and Social Care.

“We will be continuing discussions in relation to international trainees without employment in the period between the end of pre-registration training and the registration assessment,” the RPS said.

“Welcome news”

Commenting on the announcement, RPS president Sandra Gidley said: “It will be vital to support and maintain the pharmacy workforce in the coming months, so this is welcome news for pharmacists, and their families, who are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) president Regan McCahill added that the organisations have “also called for support for pre-registration pharmacists who may not currently be in employment and will be speaking to government and the regulator further” about this.

The RPS and the BPSA jointly wrote to home secretary Priti Patel last week (April 23) asking the government to extend tier 2 and tier 4 visas for pre-registration pharmacists, as done in the case of doctors, nurses and paramedics on March 31.

The BPSA clarified earlier this week (April 27) that it is working with the RPS to defend the interests of those pre-regs who are tier 5 visa holders. Tier 5 visa holders had not been mentioned in the organisations’ letter to the home secretary, which focused on those with tier 2 and tier 4 visas.

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