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Guide to UK Immigration for Doctors

uk immigration guide doctors

Migrating to another country is never an easy decision. There are so many things you have to consider. If the visa process is comprehensive and complicated, the process is significantly more difficult. The truth is that immigration law in the UK is multi-layered. In addition to that, it changes on a regular basis, meaning that you have to get your facts straight and ensure that the information you have is up to date. 

As a doctor, there are some key considerations you should assess prior to deciding to move to the UK. We will talk about the most important things in our brief guide, to ease the path for you. 

Applying for a Visa – Things to Know

Prior to applying for a visa, the first thing you should do is check that you have everything that’s needed for the application per se. In case you intend to apply for a Tier 2 visa, then the second thing on your list is to get a certificate of sponsorship. 

But what does the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) entail? This is something you should get from your employer. Your prospective employer is expected to request a CoS through their online Sponsor Management System account. It’s critical to apply for a visa within the validity period of the Certificate of Sponsorship – otherwise, your plans might be delayed. Concurrently, you shouldn’t apply more than three days in advance of the date when you are expected to start working in the UK.  

Working in the UK on the Tier 2 Visa

If you are a doctor who intends to work in the UK in the foreseeable future, then you should apply for a Tier 2 visa. This is a UK visa that enables employers to hire people from outside the UK and European Economic Area (EEA) in order to occupy positions that cannot be taken by UK or EEA workers. 

On a different note, as a non-UK or EEA doctor, if you want to practice medicine in the UK, you’ll need to get a Tier 2 Visa. Prior to making the application, you need to be sponsored – as we outlined above, a certificate of sponsorship is mandatory. 

It’s worth noting that, as the visa requirements are continually changing, a significant change has been added. We’re referring to the fact that all doctors at all levels have the possibility of applying for a UK visa – the one condition is to have adequate sponsorship. The primary distinction is that the employer mustn’t advertise the job beforehand and should follow a range of strict steps. We’ll talk in more detail about these changes and how these affect the immigration system in the forthcoming paragraphs. 

UK Shortage Occupation List (SOL) – What You Should Know 

The changes we will discuss have to do with the UK shortage occupation list, which has been updated recently. Basically, new roles have been added and others have been eliminated instead. These changes are connected with the Certificates of Sponsorship that are effective starting the 6th of October 2019. 

Doctors should be more than pleased by the additions to the new list, and not only. The same goes for professionals specialising in STEM fields and information technology – but this isn’t our main focus at the moment. Considering that these domains are growing more and more competitive by the day, it made sense that the need for personnel was addressed, as qualified professionals are needed in the UK. 

These changes have been implemented after the MAC review of the SOL. Accordingly, MAC suggested introducing key changes to the list in order to address the changing needs of the economy in the UK. At the time being, SOL roles account for roughly 9 percent of total employment in the UK. 

With that in mind, all medical practitioners have been included on the list. This includes occupational therapists, radiographers, psychologists, speech and language therapists, nurses, paramedics, and others. Concurrently, the changes are applicable to medical professionals on contract with health services. Meanwhile, some of the positions that have been eliminated from the list include pharmacologists, pharmacists, and dental practitioners – when it comes to the healthcare area, of course. 

What are some benefits worth noting, might you ask? There are many advantages that are worth mentioning and that make the visa application process easier for both the foreigner and the employer. 

Now, let’s say that you are an employer and you intend to sponsor non-EEA workers. Before, there was a range of very specific requirements that needed addressing. These were linked to the resident labour market test, and many other documents that had to be submitted as evidence. 

Nevertheless, we should mention that the roles included in the SOL benefit from some exemptions. This will make it significantly easier and more accessible to the employer to hire a prepared worker from outside the UK. 

What Are the Advantages of the Roles Included on the Shortage Occupation List?

Moving on to the actual advantages, the first one worth mentioning is that employers are no longer required to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). What does this stand for?

The truth is that the resident labour market test can overcomplicate things quite a lot. This test was essentially created in order to determine UK employers to hire UK residents prior to considering foreigners to fill up positions. Therefore, prior to hiring someone outside the EEA, one had to conduct the resident labour market test, which was time-consuming and complicated the process. According to the test, the employer had to demonstrate that the post being filled was genuine. 

The test meant that UK employers had to ensure that the position couldn’t be filled by someone that was already living in the UK. In addition to that, one had to confirm that the person coming to work in the UK was actually skilled and suitable for the position. One advert had to be posted in this respect. Each advert had to be placed and handled accordingly, in order to ensure that the visa process isn’t hindered by the Home Office due to lack of transparency. While there were several exemptions to the strict specifications, they didn’t apply in most cases, thus making things difficult. 

Therefore, you can understand why the fact that this is no longer a requirement is a significant advantage, making things easier and more convenient. Another benefit would be that there aren’t any requirements regarding the minimum income threshold for settlement. 

Also, in regard to the visa fees, they are notably lower than before. In other words, the visa application process has been simplified and made more accessible, pricewise. This means doctors shouldn’t encounter as many challenges as before if they wish to work in the UK. 

The Immigration System Is Prone to Change

Change is imminent in the day we live in. We see it everywhere: starting from our lifestyles and our jobs. Therefore, it was only normal that the immigration system in the UK would be prone to change as well. Change is necessary in order to address the needs of the people and the country – otherwise, the system is no longer serving its citizens. 

Evidently, due to the changes introduced to the SOL, the immigration system in the UK is bound to change. And doctors who are eager to practice their profession in the UK can take advantage of the new structure of the system. That is to say, the focus will be directed towards skills and experience. 

As opposed to centring on the importance of nationality when trying to fill up a key position in the healthcare system, skills will become primordial. As the new system becomes effective, MAC might come up with suggestions on how to enhance it, depending on the way in which things evolve with the implementation of the new system. 

To that end, positions for doctors and healthcare practitioners don’t require any advertising prior to being granted to a non-EEA immigrant. If you are an employer and you have found the right candidate for a position in the healthcare department, you can hire a non-EEA immigrant without the need to go through such a complicated process. 

Nevertheless, the position must be at least 30 hours per week. In addition to that, the pay must address the law specifications. The occupation list is applicable to the entire UK (and this would include Scotland as well). 

Do You Have Any Other Questions Regarding the Immigration Process for Doctors in the UK?

Since there’s no such thing as an easy and simple immigration process, you might need guidance or assistance along the way. If that’s the case, rest assured – we’ve got your back. If you are a doctor or a nurse and you’ve been considering working in the UK, we can help you. Make sure you contact us and browse our website for more info regarding the Tier 2 Visa and not only. If you feel overwhelmed, just get in touch with us and we can guide you in the process.

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