This website is intended for healthcare professionals


RCN condemns ‘divisive’ rise in visa costs for overseas nursing staff

The RCN has raised ‘serious’ concerns in a letter to the Home Secretary on planned increases in visa costs

The fee increases will affect health workers and nursing students coming to the UK from overseas. In the letter, The RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said, ‘Subjecting our much-needed internationally educated staff in the health and care sector to additional levies is not only unjust but divisive and short-sighted.’

In a speech at the Conservative Party Conference, Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced a planned increase to visa application fees, with students coming to the UK set to face a 35% increase in visa fees. The cost to apply to stay in the UK indefinitely has also risen by 20%. The RCN has raised concern that this comes at a time when there is a significant amount of nursing vacancies in the NHS, which, according to, sits at around 46,000 as of June 2023. ‘Cutting the supply of internationally educated nursing staff will only add to the pressure on health and care services.’

A study in June 2022 revealed that over 220,000 NHS staff reported a non-British nationality, accounting for 1 in 6 of NHS workers. This statistic includes 23.7% of nurses coming from overseas. In the letter, Pat Cullen acknowledged the reliance the NHS has on staff recruited from overseas and said that the fees could ‘make the UK a less attractive place to live and work for the nurses and other health professionals.’

Cullen also said, ‘Nursing staff and care workers, regardless of their country of origin, make a vital contribution to this country. They deserve ti be valued and recognised.’ The changes to visa fees are scheduled to come into effect this week.