BVA responds to new immigration rules
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has responded to the government’s new immigration rules that will see freedom of movement replaced by an employer-led, points-based system.
BVA president Daniella Dos Santos said the new system could place ‘a significant administrative burden’ on veterinary practices, which will be required to sponsor recruits from overseas. Currently, over half of new entrants on the UK veterinary register come from outside the UK, with a significant number coming from the EU via freedom of movement.
The new system will allocate additional points for occupations on the Shortage Occupation List. Following a sustained campaign by the BVA, RCVS and others, veterinary surgeons were added to the Shortage Occupation List in 2019.
The BVA has also successfully lobbied for the introduction of post-study work visas, which will help to retain vets from overseas who have qualified in the UK, but previously would not have been able to work here.
Ms Dos Santos said: “The UK veterinary profession is hugely reliant on overseas vets in order to deliver animal health and welfare, safeguard public health, and ensure the UK can trade animals and animal products.
“The government’s blueprint for trade will require a massive boost to the veterinary workforce to deliver veterinary certification not only for exports but, as announced last week, also for imports. This new immigration system leaves a big question mark over whether we’ll be able to fill the workforce gap created by the end of free movement when we are already struggling to recruit and retain vets.”
She continued: “We’re pleased that our campaign to secure vets onto the Shortage Occupation List will be rewarded under the new system and we’re delighted that post-study work visas will be available for vets who graduate from our world-class vet schools. But we don’t know if this will be enough, and we remain concerned that an employer-led system places a significant financial and bureaucratic burden on vet practices, many of which are SMEs.
“We’re keen to work with Defra and the Home Office to do all we can to support vets to get ready for the introduction of the new system.”