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Tier 2 Visas for International GPs: Guidance for Practices

Publication date: January 2020

The UK has a national shortage of qualified GPs to meet the growing demands of the population. Typical recruitment efforts have not produced suitable candidates required to fill GP roles in our area. The impact of this is extended waiting times for patients and greater pressure on the current workforce to meet the needs of patients. 

The role of a GP is requires many years of specialist training including: a full medical degree; two years of foundation medical training; and at least three years of specialist GP training. While there are concerted national efforts to increase the numbers of available GPs in the UK, this does not address the immediate pressure on services and we therefore anticipate a need to recruit from overseas.

The role of General Practitioner has been included on the UK Shortage Occupation list as of 6 October 2019 and the resident labour market test (RMLT) is no longer required for GPs who will be working over 30 hours. However if a GP wishes to work under 30 hours the RMLT will need to be conducted - see the guidance on creating and assigning certificates of sponsorship below for details.   

Practices looking to recruit GPs from overseas will benefit from new guidance to help with the process of obtaining Tier 2 Visas. 

Tier 2 is an immigration route for non-European Economic Area (EEA) migrants who wish to work in the UK. Initially the focus was on doctors from the EEA but has now been widened to include Australia and New Zealand. 

In order to obtain a Tier 2 Visa, these migrants must be sponsored by an organisation or company that holds a Tier 2 licence. A licence is a permission given to an organisation by the Home Office to sponsor workers in its business. This licence lasts for 4 years and the organisation is then recognised as a sponsor.

NHS England is offering a package of funding to support any practice who wants to become Tier 2 Visa sponsors. Funding available includes: reimbursement of sponsor licence fee (even if unsuccessful), Certificate of Sponsorship fee, the first two years of Immigration Skills Charge and Visa fees for GP trainee and their family. 

There are a number of resources to help practices with Tier 2 Visa Applications:

Tier 2 Visa Applications: Support Information from NHSE - an overview of the rules, and how to get help from NHS England (updated January 2020)

Becoming a Tier 2 Visa Sponsor - PowerPoint slides outlining the process (updated December 2019)

Creating and Assigning Certificates of Sponsorship - PowerPoint slides explaining how to create the required certificates (updated December 2019)

NHSE have extended the deadline for Tier 2 visa reimbursements to 31/03/2020 when the funding ends. However if you are looking to apply after this deadline it may still be worth approaching NHS England to discuss your situation.