Immigration for Doctors

22 Nov 2019

There’s nothing new about skill gaps, labour shortages or filling them with overseas recruits. Arguably the modern trend started in June 1948 with the arrival at Tilbury of 492 Caribbean migrants on the Empire Windrush. The public sector was quick to welcome migrant workers as a way of meeting increased demand on services and the health sector became a significant beneficiary of migrants work and loyalty.

Of course the halcyon days of nodding in migrant workers have long gone. Medical practices recruiting GPs from outside the EU must now become Entry Clearance and Enforcement Officers through a sponsorship scheme; but it’s not as difficult as it looks. Getting started is quite straightforward provided one approaches the challenge methodically.

Step one is a reality check. You’ve resolved to recruit a GP from outside the EU so pause for a moment before embracing rules which have baffled the Court of Appeal. Take advice from an immigration lawyer and check your plan has a fighting chance of success. For instance:

  • is your role still exempt from the tier 2 quota?
  • does the proposed salary pass muster and is it high enough if the quota applies?
  • have you budgeted for the application/visa charges, healthcare surcharge (yes, it applies to doctors) and immigration skills charge which you or your recruit will have to pay?
  • will the recruit be required to take an English language test and if so, what sort of test and where can it be sat?
  • is there a criminal record lurking in the background?
  • is a TB certificate required?
  • do your practice management systems support your obligations as a sponsor?
  • are your partners and key staff aware of the practice’s sponsorship obligations?
  • can you and the recruit comply with the GMC’s regulatory requirements?

If you tick all the boxes, move on to step two; your application for a sponsors licence. In most cases this will be a trawl for key documents which should be at your practice manager’s beck and call but care is required over the supporting statement explaining your application. There’s no right of appeal against the refusal of a licence and a six months cooling off period during which another application will normally be refused. You must get it right first time.

At the time of writing Brexit seems to have become an unhealthy smog. However, subject to anything the pre-Christmas General Election throws up, the status quo for migrants seems likely to prevail until 1st January 2021 when we’re promised a brand new immigration system. For the time being your guess of what it’ll look like is as good as mine. Depending upon the outcome of the Election, my hunch is we’ll see a move away from numbers driven criteria to something based more closely on the skills (possibly, hopefully, experience) required by UK employers. I’m also hoping for a more developed mechanism for modifying skills criteria to reflect employers changing needs.

James Humphery
Immigration solicitor, James Humphery has over 10 years ‘ expertise in immigration law.

Healthcare at Trethowans
Whether it involves public or private sector, the healthcare industry brings its own challenges. Here at Trethowans, we are fortunate to have a team of specialist lawyers drawn from key legal disciplines, such as James Humphery, and each with many years’ experience. To find out more information, please contact Partner, Guy Morgan on 01722 426931.


James Humphery

Senior Solicitor