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NHS doctor told by Home Office to leave UK and apply for new visa stranded for months with career in jeopardy


An NHS doctors career is in jeopardy because the Home Office has rejected his application for a visa four times after telling him to leave the country and reapply for a work permit following the breakup of his marriage.

Dr Nnaemeka Chidumije has worked in the NHS in Newcastle since 2014 and was training to be a surgeon when he was told he would have to leave the country because his spousal visa had been curtailed.

He was advised he would have to go to Nigeria and reapply there for a tier two skilled migrant visa as a new entrant,although he hadlivedand workedin the UK since 2013.

Although he meets the salary and employment requirements that have historically been required for a skilled visa, a new system of monthly visa caps introduced in January has meant he has been rejected each month.

As a result he has been unable to complete his final work rotation, as a colorectal surgical registrar in Gateshead, or apply for the next stage of his surgical training.

Health Education England (HEE), his employer, can apply for his visa sponsorship in June and July but that was the point his initial training programme was due to finish and after that his position could be in jeopardy.

I was anticipating, if things went well, I would just have a gap of two or three weeks but it has dragged on for months.

If I dont get sponsorship by July, they cant do anything about it, DrChidumije told The Independent over the phone.

Nobody knows whats going to happen, I was supposed to be applying for surgical training [speciality training level three]but because my visa was curtailed I wasnt able to attend my interviews.

This comes as the government is embroiled in a row over its immigration policies, following the resignation of the then HomeSecretary Amber Rudd amid the departments scandalous deportation of Windrush generation Britons.

The situationalso follows revelations that hundreds of qualified doctors who have been offered jobs at NHS trusts have been unable to start work because of new immigration rules, however these doctors hadnot previously been working in the NHS.

HEE has informed Dr Chidumije that it had not had these issues with doctors visa sponsorship until this year, and Health and Social CareSecretary Jeremy Hunt has said he backs a special visa for NHS staff.

Ive been settled in Newcastle since 2013, Dr Chidumije said. I call Newcastle home, I was married but unfortunately the marriage has broken down which is why Im in this situation as the change of the visa has to be done outside the country.

For first-time applicants outside the country, thats where this cap applies.

Home Office rule changes in 2018 have made monthly visa allocations more competitive, and the threshold for a tier twovisa used to be around 21 points roughly a salary of 30,000 or more buthas more than doubled.

His colleagues from the training programme in the North East have written to Gateshead MP Ian Mearnsto condemn the waste of Dr Chidumijes talents in an understaffed NHS.

Our immigration policy has failed to recognise the contribution of this exceptional individual to the NHS and his potential to greatly benefit this country in the future, they write.

A separate letter from The Doctors Association UK, which has been supporting his appeal, has been sent to PrimeMinister Theresa May calling for her intervention.

The Home Office was approached for comment but had not responded at time of publication.



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