I have been deeply touched by the incredible work of our front-line staff across Broxtowe during this pandemic. We owe them an immense debt of gratitude. I am particularly pleased that the Government has taken action to ensure the immigration system does not unduly infringe the ability of the NHS to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak. Anyone in an eligible profession that is working for the NHS or independent healthcare provider will have their visa automatically extended by one year if it is due to expire before 1 October 2020. I am pleased that family members with a visa due to expire before 1 October 2020 could also have their visa extended.
The Government has made sure that the extension is free and the immigration health surcharge will not have to be paid as part of this extension. Ministers are aware of the pressure frontline health workers are under at the current time and therefore recognise the need to make this process as easy as possible. It is good news that eligible staff do not need to apply for this extension.
I understand concerns regarding the eligibility criteria, and I have raised these with the Home Office team. However, it is important to remember that the visa extensions are just one part of the Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and you may be pleased to know that ministers have been clear that they continue to consider how best to support the health and social care sector.
In April, the bereavement scheme was introduced for health workers in the NHS and independent health and care sector. The Home Secretary said at the time that her team would continue to work hard to look at ways to provide further support. I welcome the fact that the Home Office is now extending the offer of indefinite leave to remain, free of charge, to the families and dependants of NHS support staff and social care workers who have tragically died of Coronavirus in pursuit of saving others.
I welcome the Prime Minister's announcement that NHS and care workers will be exempted from the Immigration Health Surcharge fee as soon as possible, as a testament to their inspirational work throughout this crisis. I will continue to monitor this issue closely as more details emerge.