Healthcare workers coming to the UK from abroad will receive visa decisions within three weeks under a new post-Brexit immigration system, the government has announced.

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The changes, made possible because of biometric technology, will be part of a new Health and Care Visa.

But many social care workers will not be eligible, despite fears of widespread staff shortages, ministers have confirmed.

Only those in “eligible occupations in the social care sector” can apply, Priti Patel, the home secretary has said.

Asked if the visa will cover social care workers, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We want employers to invest more in training and development for care workers in this country. Our independent migration advisers have said that immigration is not the sole answer here, which is why we have provided councils with an additional £1.5 billion for social care in 2021/22 as well as launching a new recruitment campaign.

“The EU workers who are contributing so much to our care sector can apply to stay in the UK through our settlement scheme and a very large number have done so. These people will remain in the UK providing really important care to the elderly and vulnerable.”

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