Immigration for Doctors – Who are ‘Doctors and Nurses’?

16 Dec 2019

In the General Election campaign we heard a fair amount about ‘Doctors and Nurses’. It’s a safe bet we’ll hear more. But what do politicians mean when they talk about ‘Doctors and Nurses’?

I’ve heard the phrase used narrowly but I’ve also heard it used in a much broader sense as a form of shorthand for any professional involved in healthcare. That wider use of the phrase can have unfortunate consequences. This is more than a pedantic point about linguistics because in an immigration context ‘Doctors and Nurses’ has a specific meaning. It’s set out in Appendix J to the Immigration Rules which lists occupations by their skill levels and job descriptions. The appendix is an essential reference point for anyone involved with the sponsorship of migrant workers.


Doctors are in a category which includes a range of job titles such as:

General practitioner                       Anaesthetist                      Paediatrician

Psychiatrist                                       Radiologist                          Surgeon


Nurses are in a category which includes a range of job titles such as

Health Visitor                                     Practice Nurse                   Staff Nurse

Mental Health Practitioner           Psychiatric Nurse             Student Nurse


It’s as well to bear this in mind because the important professions allied to medicine are not doctors and nurses for the purpose of the UK’s Immigration Rules.

It’s also worth noting some of these allied professions are recognised by the Immigration Rules as occupations in which there is a national shortage; for instance Psychologists (clinical, educational, forensic and occupational), Medical Radiographers (including sonographers), Occupational Therapists and Speech & Language Therapists.

Another problematic phrase is the somewhat elastic ‘Health Professionals’ because in terms of immigration law it’s not clear how far it stretches. Indeed, one of the groups of occupations in Appendix J is “Health Professionals not elsewhere classified”.  This group includes Audiologists, Dental Hygiene Therapists, Family Planners and Occupational Health Advisors.

It’s trite but when the Immigration Rules are in play the devil is always in the detail.

Immigration solicitor, James Humphery has over 38 years ‘ expertise in immigration law. Contact him on 01722 426915 with your immigration enquiry.

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