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Tier 2 Visa Applications: updated support information from NHSE

Tier 2 is an immigration route for GPs from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and they each require a sponsor in order to live and work in the UK. These Drs must be sponsored by an organisation or company that holds a Tier 2 licence. A licence is a permission given to an organisation to sponsor workers in its business and last for 4 years. The organisation is known as a sponsor.

The number of GP Practices who are currently Tier 2 Visa sponsors is limited meaning GPs from outside the EEA have to return to their home country if they are unable to find employment with a practice that can continue their sponsorship. Tier 2 sponsorship therefore is an opportunity for practices that are having difficulty recruiting to vacant GP posts, to employ migrant Drs who will generally have completed their training in the UK. It doesn’t guarantee that you will fill your vacancy, but it does open up a new pool of Drs who are then able to apply for your vacancies.

A streamlined GMC Certificate of Eligibility for GP Registration (CEGPR) process to approve GPs from New Zealand and Canada is due to launch in October 2019 backed by a new social media marketing campaign. This may result in increased interest from GPs in these countries who currently require Tier 2 Visas to work in the UK.

How to apply to become a sponsor

NHSE has produced the following resources (attached)

  • A slide pack which advises about obtaining the Certificates of Sponsorship for each individual doctor
  • Certificates of sponsorship slides
  • Reimbursement form

Resident labour market test

The Home Office has recently published the updated Shortage Occupation List which now includes ALL medical practitioners under SOC 2211. This means that as of the 1 October 2019 practices no longer have to undertake the resident labour market test for recruiting non-EEA GPs.

English language testing requirements for tier 2 visa

The Home Office has streamlined English language testing ensuring that doctors as well as dentists, nurses and midwives who have already passed an English language test accepted by the relevant professional body, do not have to sit another test before entry to the UK on a Tier 2 visa. Previously, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) would only accept IELTS, so if a non-EEA GP passed the OET for the GMC, they would still have to take a separate IELTS test for immigration purposes. This is no longer necessary.


  • NHS England and NHS Improvement will reimburse practices for all costs associated with becoming a Tier 2 sponsor, including unsuccessful attempts. NHS England and NHS Improvement will meet any costs that were incurred after 1 June 2018 and reimbursement forms must be submitted to NHS England and NHS Improvement before 31 March 2020. Practices can claim as soon as they have submitted their application.
  • Getting approval as a Tier 2 sponsor takes up to 8 weeks so now is a good time start the process. Practices considering employing an international GP, including international medical graduates qualifying from GP speciality training in February 2020, are recommended to look at becoming a sponsor sooner rather than later in preparation. NHSE has advised that if further funding is available for the next financial year 2020/21 it will let practices & LMCs know.

Next steps

NHS England will support non-EEA GP trainees by matching them with vacancies at practices that hold visa sponsorship licences in their preferred locations. (Please note that standard recruitment processes then apply for the roles within these practices.) If you are interested in becoming a Tier 2 Sponsor Organisation and would like further information please contact

Alternatively if you would like an initial general discussion about becoming a Tier 2 sponsor, please contact


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