Indian care workers in UK face deportation, visa applications see sharp drop

The UK government tightened rules for healthcare worker visas, making it harder to bring in families. Health and care visa applications dropped by a massive 76%. This comes even as many Indian workers are facing deportation from the UK, and risk being torn away from their families living there.
Indian care workers in UK face deportation, visa applications see sharp drop
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The number of people applying for visas to work in the UK's healthcare sector has seen a massive drop after the British government made it harder for them to bring in their families. There is a 76% decrease in healthcare worker visa applications and a 58% drop in family dependants compared to April 2023, according to the latest figures released by the UK Home Office. Indian nationals topped the health and care visa grants in 2023.

This comes even as many Indian healthcare workers in the UK are facing deportation even though some have families in the UK, according to a PTI report. They are unable to find new jobs that fit their visa rules and risk being deported in just 2 months.

The UK government says the new healthcare visa rules are needed to control immigration and protect British workers.

Apart from the health and care visas, the British government's measures to tighten student visas, which came into force in January, have prevented most international students starting courses this year from bringing family members with 79% fewer student-dependent applications in the first 4 months of 2024.

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Indian care workers in UK face deportation, visa applications see sharp drop

“This monthly data is the most up-to-date picture of visa levels, showing that on current trajectories legal migration continues to fall across key routes,” said UK Home Secretary James Cleverly.

“The British people deserve an immigration system that puts their interests first. Our approach is about control and fairness; to the highly skilled coming here who deserve a decent wage, to taxpayers who shouldn’t be relied on to support them, and to British workers who shouldn’t be undercut,” he said.

The monthly data was released to reflect the impact of changes by the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak-led government, which is keen to show falling immigration numbers ahead of a general election later this year.

India was the top country for healthcare worker visas last year, with over 38,000 visas granted to its citizens. Many of these workers are now caught in a difficult situation because of the new rules.

Some workers say they were brought to the UK under false pretences. They claim they were promised jobs that didn't exist or were offered wages much lower than the minimum.

The National Council of Gujarati Organisations (NCGO) is lobbying the government to help these stranded workers. They say many have families in the UK and face a short deadline to find new jobs or leave the country.

“Some of these victims had borrowed thousands of pounds to get the visas and now face deportation for no fault of theirs,” said the National Council of Gujarati Organisations (NCGO) UK, which is lobbying on behalf of these workers, many of whom are from Gujarat.

An online petition calling for the government to take action has nearly reached 10,000 signatures, which means the government must officially respond.

Many healthcare workers brought to the UK for jobs are now stuck. They can't find new jobs that fit their visa rules and risk being deported in just 2 months, even though some have families in the UK.

“Sixty days is a very short notice for a family to arrange departure as it could unsettle their children's schooling, lead to loss of rent or deposit, furnishing costs, air ticket and relocation costs,” reads an online petition on the UK Parliament website, which is edging towards the 10,000 signatures mark after which the UK government must officially respond, reported PTI.

The Home Office has admitted that some care workers were offered visas under false pretences, travelling thousands of miles for jobs that simply didn’t exist or to be paid far below the minimum wage required for their work.

One impacted worker from Rajkot, currently based in Leicester with his wife and three children, has reported his agency to the Action Fraud helpline and is lobbying the UK government for justice, according to the PTI report.

“I cannot work anywhere else due to my right-to-work restrictions. But this company is not giving me work and not even completed the joining process in the last four months. I am continuously following up to start work and get back my deposit amount. But I am not getting any response,” the hapless professional said in his letter to PM Rishi Sunak.

The new rules on healthcare worker visas are part of a wider tightening of UK immigration rules. There has also been a significant drop in student visa applications.

Some government officials are worried that further restrictions could damage the UK's reputation as a welcoming place for international students.

Source: India Today

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