For those doctors who are looking to embark upon a new career in the UK, one of the big concerns that they always have is which visa is appropriate for working in the UK and how do hospitals obtain a visa for you to work in the UK. Although the rules and regulations surrounding the issuing of visa’s is a complicated business, we will try and simplify it for you and hopefully shed some light on how the process works!
What types of visa will allow you to work in the UK as a doctor?
Since the UK Home Office decided to end applications for the Tier 1 visa in April 2015, there is now essentially only one visa that can be issued in order for you to be eligible to work in the United Kingdom as a doctor. This is called a Tier 2 visa.
What is a Tier 2 visa?
A Tier 2 visa is an employer-led category which means that employers (hospitals) must sponsor any skilled doctors from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
Any hospital looking to employ someone on a Tier 2 visa must hold a “sponsorship licence”. Hospitals in the United Kingdom have an “A” rated licence, which means that they can start assigning certificates of sponsorship and will appear on the Home Office “Register of Sponsors”
There are two categories of certificates of sponsorship (CoS) within Tier 2 and each requires a different issuing process:
- A restricted CoS is used for individuals who are applying from overseas as new entrants into the country.
- An unrestricted CoS is used for individuals who are already working in a UK hospital under Tier 2 sponsorship and need to extend their stay. It is also used for individuals where a hospital is looking to recruit someone who is already based in the UK and allowed to transfer to or alter an existing Tier 2 visa.
What’s the difference?
- Restricted COS
Hospitals wishing to recruit a non-EEA skilled doctor who is currently outside of the UK, will need to apply for a restricted CoS. The allocation of restricted CoS numbers is determined on the 11th of each month (or closest working day) when the Home Office (UK Visas and Immigration) holds a panel meeting to decide which applications will be approved.
Applications must be received from the hospital in which you have been offered a post by the 5th of each month in order to be considered on time. If applications are not received by this date, they will be reviewed at the following month’s panel meeting.
The panel’s decision making process is based upon points gained against one of the three following categories, along with the salary awarded for the job:
- the job is identified on the shortage occupation list
- the job is at PhD level
- the resident labour market test (RLMT) has been conducted or the job is exempt
What is the “Resident Labour Market Test (RMLT)”
When a hospital is applying for both restricted and unrestricted certificates of sponsorship (CoS) they will need to demonstrate that they have carried out a RLMT unless the post is on the shortage occupation list or there is an exemption to the RLMT.
How does a hospital prove that it has satisfied the resident labour market test in order to consider doctors from outside the EEA and Switzerland?
The RLMT requires that vacancies are subject to a four-week advertising period (28 days). This four-week period does not have to be continuous. Hospitals have the following options available to them.
- They will be able to advertise skilled jobs under Tier 2 of the points-based system for an initial period of no less than seven days.
- If no suitable resident labour worker is available, they cannot appoint a migrant worker at this stage but must re-advertise for the remainder of the 28 days. If no suitable resident labour market worker is identified at this stage, employers can then consider appointing a Tier 2 migrant.
Another option is to advertise for the full four weeks and go through the normal recruitment and selection process.
The UK Visas and Immigration restricted CoS allocation meeting
The allocation meeting takes place monthly to review all certificate of sponsorship (CoS) applications. Applications that do not meet the minimum criteria of 21 points will be rejected.
Hospitals are notified of the result of their applications within five working days of the panel meeting.
- Unrestricted COS
There is no restriction on the number of CoS that can be granted to employers for use with individuals who need to extend their employment or transfer employers within a Tier 2 visa. This means that if you are offered a 6 month or a 12 month “fixed term” contract, don’t be concerned about extending your stay in the UK – so long as the hospital in which you are employed want to extend your contract, then this is a fairly straightforward process.
I hope that the above clarifies the process involved for a hospital to issue you with the relevant visa to work in the UK. All positions that BDI Resourcing will offer to you will have already satisfied the “RMLT”, so you should feel safe in the knowledge that if you are successful at the interview stage, then the visa will not be difficult for you to attain and you can look forward to starting your new life in the UK!
How BDI Resourcing can help you
With a wealth of knowledge in helping international doctors relocate to the UK we understand that moving to the UK is a life changing decision for you and your family. Working as a true partnership, we won’t make you feel as if you are alone during this stressful but exciting time.
We are always at the end of the phone to discuss any questions/concerns you may have.
We promise that we will assist you to the best of our abilities no matter what the issue may be.
We have guided many doctors successfully through the relocation process, so our expertise in this area is unparalleled.
We can connect you with trusted legal advisors who can check all your documentation and forms prior to sending off your CoS application.
We will be there to liaise between yourself and your future employer to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.