In a surprise change of policy, the Conservative government has relaxed some of its immigration rules.

Recently-appointed Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced the change in immigration laws so that more doctors and nurses outside of the European Union can come to live and work in the UK. The policy on skilled immigration now excludes doctors and nurses so that the NHS, which is experiencing a major shortage of people in these professions from the UK, can fill empty vacancies.

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Home Secretary Sajid Javid

It has been hailed by NHS groups and campaigners, including Saffron Cordery NHS Providers, who said that the change is “absolutely the right decision”.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Javid’s proposal is “extremely welcome”.

Before this announcement, the cap set a limit on non-EU skilled immigration at 20,700 a year and was brought in by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary. Currently, NHS workers make up 40% of non-EU skilled immigrants coming into the UK while 2,360 visa applications from outside of the EU were rejected in one five-month period due to the cap.

The news of the immigration policy change has also been praised by the Labour Party, which said the move is a “welcome U-turn”.