Guidance

Introduction

Wessex LMCs have compiled a list of practices who hold a UK Visa Sponsor Licence or who are interested in applying for a licence. If you wish your practice to be added to this list, please email your details to the office – office@wessexlmcs.org.uk.

This list is available HERE for GPs who are looking to find employment with a UK Visa sponsoring organisation.

There are a number of resources on International GP Recruitment the FutureNHS website.

Practices can apply to be a UK Visa Sponsoring Organisation and when granted a licence, can then issue UK Certificates of Sponsorship for clinicians from outside the UK, applying on a Skilled Worker Visa (formerly a Tier 2 General work visa).

As you will be aware, increasing numbers of GP trainees, both nationally and here in Wessex, are international graduates.

Whilst some of our International Medical Graduates (IMGs) have been in the UK for many years, increasing numbers are new to the UK at the start of GPST1.  As GP training is only three years, and it takes five years to qualify for “Indefinite Leave to Remain,” IMGs who are new to the UK when they start their GP training require ongoing visa sponsorship when they complete their training.

As announced in May 2023, GP trainees in receipt of their Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT)  are now eligible for a four-month extension to their visas whilst they arrange substantive post-CCT employment with a new visa sponsor.

For new trainees, including Feb 2024 new starters, this additional four months should be added to the visa automatically when the trainee first applies for the visa. Existing trainees who wish to do so (i.e. those who have not already finalised a post-CCT job with a sponsoring practice) must apply for this extension when they are nearing the end of their training.

There is work ongoing nationally to push for all Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) GPs to automatically qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain on completion of GP training; however, we are not there yet. In the meantime, practices may want to consider becoming registered as visa sponsors.

This is also a route for practices struggling to recruit clinicians, so you may wish to consider this as an alternative recruitment pathway.

Financial support from NHS England to cover the applications costs ended on 31st March 2020. However, it may be that practices will be able to approach their CCG for reimbursement of costs associated with becoming a UK Visa sponsoring organisation.

Despite this uncertainty there may be some organisations for whom it may still be beneficial to apply for a sponsorship licence and therefore employ someone who requires a certificate of sponsorship.

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Workers and Temporary Workers: Guidance for Sponsors

GOV.UK have a suite of guidance documents:

‘Workers and Temporary Workers: guidance for sponsors’ (or ‘sponsor guidance for employers’ for short). The guidance is structured as follows:

We would recommend that you read all parts of the guidance to ensure that you understand your duties and responsibilities as a licensed sponsor.

You can find all documents on the ‘Guidance for employers and educators’ page on GOV.UK.

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Main Parts

The 3 main parts are:

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Appendices

The relevant appendices are:

  • Appendix A: this tells you the documents you must submit to support your sponsor licence application.
  • Appendix B: this is a list of immigration offences they will note when considering your suitability to hold a sponsor licence.
  • Appendix D: this tells you about your record-keeping duties as a licensed sponsor.

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Route Specific Guidance

This document contains detailed information on sponsoring a skilled worker:

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Here is some of the information taken from the GOV.UK guidance on the process and how to apply:

Practice Benefits of Becoming a UK Visa Sponsoring Organisation

  • It will allow you to employ your registrar following their Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) if they are a doctor from outside the UK.
  • Access to an expanded workforce to employ from
  • The Home Office has announced that from 6 April 2024, employers that already hold a sponsorship licence will no longer be required to apply for a licence renewal after four years.  There is no action needed for employers. If a practice has a sponsorship licence that is due to expire on or after this date, the Home Office will automatically extend the expiry date on the licence by 10 years.

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Requirements of the Practice

Significant trust is placed with the sponsorship organisation and the Home Office needs to establish 4 criteria when considering licence applications:

  • You are a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK.
  • You are honest, dependable and reliable.
  • You can carry out your sponsorship duties, i.e., you have robust HR and recruitment processes.
  • You are offering genuine skilled, appropriately remunerated employment.

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How Do You Apply?

Applying to hold a UK Visa Sponsor Licence is quite a commitment. As with any application procedure it is important to ensure your supporting documentation is up to date and correct. Preparation is the key to success. NHS England recommends you invest a minimum of 2 days into the application process so be aware of this commitment at the outset but accept it could take longer. The process can seem a complex multi-stepped process with complicated guidance, but this is probably because the official Home Office guidance must cover all sectors and all eventualities. While not a substitute for the official guidance hopefully this simplified version will be beneficial for your practice and your patients if your vacancy can be filled.

Be aware there are time sensitive requirements along the way. Where relevant these have been highlighted below to help you prepare. For example, to prove your organisation is genuine and has an established trading presence in the UK you must ensure that all supporting documentation and the submission sheet is received within 5 working days from the date that you submit your online application. Other time sensitive actions are highlighted in this document.

The process is an online application – https://www.gov.uk/apply-sponsor-licence.

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GPs Included on the Shortage Occupation List – October 2019

On 29th May 2019 the Migration Advisory Committee published its recommendations that all medical practitioners including GP’s should be added to the shortage occupation list (SOL). This means that the recruitment process for non-EEA GPs will be significantly quicker as since 7th October 2019 there is now no need for practices to satisfy the Resident Market Labour Test (RMLT)

The most recent changes to the SOL can be viewed at here.

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Online Process for UK Visa Sponsorship for Employers

Once you have all your documents to hand, the online form should take about 20 to 25 minutes to complete. If you get part way through it and need to stop, you can save the application mid-process. It is recommended to save each page as you complete it as your session will time out after 20 minutes of inactivity. You must be connected to a printer in order to print your submission sheet. Ensure the email address provided does not block/redirect to junk.

To complete the application form you will need to have collated the following information:

*Key personnel – the online form requires named persons to have certain responsibilities (note these roles can all be done by the same person).

  • Authorising Officer – the most senior person responsible for recruitment
  • Key Contact – main contact for Home Office
  • Level 1 user – carries out the day-to-day sponsorship activities, more can be nominated once licence granted. Must be employee, director, or partner. They are the person with the access to the Sponsor Management System, the online gateway between you and UK Visa and Immigration.
  • (Optional personnel) Level 2 user – have fewer permissions than a level 1 user as can only assign Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and report worker activity, if for example the worker doesn’t come to work.

**Once you have successfully applied for a licence you have an online account can apply to give out more.

*** It is your responsibility to check exactly which documents need to support your application, more details can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supporting-documents-for-sponsor-applications-appendix-a. Documents submitted must be the originals or certified copies, the Home Office will carry out an online check for the CQC and GMC documentation.

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How Long Will it Take to Get a Licence?

Most applications are dealt with within 8 weeks.

Help and Advice.

Sponsors can get advice from the sponsorship, employer and education helpline:  Tel 0300 123 4699  from  Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.

National support for practices, ICBs, regional teams and GPs with visa queries ended on 31 May 2024 and other responsibilities such as funding visas and providing practice matching were moved to ICBs under the new NHS England operating model.

  • Individual GPs with immigration concerns can get free advice from the Immigration Advice Service.
  • Visa related queries and issues should be raised directly with the dedicated NHS Visa Team at the Home Office via UKVINHSTeam@homeoffice.gov.uk.
  • Queries relating to the 4-month visa extension for newly qualified GPs should be raised with NHS England’s Overseas Sponsorship Team via sponsorship@nhs.net.

Please note that existing NHS England visa support for sponsored GP trainees, and GP and practices participating in the International Induction Programme will continue to be provided.

 

 

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Skilled Worker Visa – Sponsor Support

There is a dedicated team of support staff available, enabling Skilled Worker Visa Sponsors to contact UK Visa and Immigration’s specialist team if they have any issues with the application process or eligibility for the skilled worker and also health and care workers. Sponsors can contact UKVI’s dedicated NHS team at the following email address: UKVINHSteam@homeoffice.gov.uk

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Further Resource List

Skilled Worker visa applicants visit here.

Health and Care Worker visa applicants visit here.

FutureNHS – International GP Recruitment

The RCGP has a guide for overseas doctors planning to train and work in the UK as a GP

The BMA have a suite of guidance for international GP’s applying for a visa sponsorship licence.  It does not replace official Home Office sponsor guidance

For information on the skilled worker route visit NHS Employers

For information on the General Practitioner (GP) 4-month extension scheme announced in Autumn 2023 visit NHSE Workforce, Training & Education

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Last Reviewed Date
07/12/2023