What is a Tier 2 Visa?
Tier 2 is an employer-led visa category which means that employers must be registered with the Home Office in order to sponsor any skilled workers they wish to recruit from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.  Non-EEA GP trainees in the UK must have a Tier 2 visa in order to study here. During the duration of their studies they are sponsored by Health Education England.

Upon qualification these GPs must either obtain work within a sponsor practice or return to their home country.

Sponsor practices
Sponsor practices may employ a non-EEA GP trainee upon qualification, providing the doctor with a sponsorship certificate. The doctor is then able to work at the allocated practice before applying for ‘indefinite leave to remain’. Doctors can apply for indefinite leave to remain after being here on a Tier 2 Visa for 5 years.

NHS England International GP Recruitment Programme
The NHS England International GP Recruitment Programme offers support for non-EEA doctors when they have completed their GP training in the UK to encourage retention. International GPs who have trained overseas are also supported to relocate. Initially the focus was on doctors from the EEA but has now been widened to include Australia and New Zealand. Both these non -EEA groups of doctors will require visas and sponsoring practices. There is more information available at the NHS England website here.

Practice matching
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.

Non-EEA trainees considering staying in England after qualifying are encouraged to contact england.intrecruitment@nhs.net as early as possible to help ensure that practices with sponsorship licences will be available in the areas where they would like to work after qualifying. NHS England is creating a database of Tier 2 Sponsor practices to support this.

NHS England is offering a package of funding to support any practice who wants to become Tier 2 Visa sponsors. Funding available includes reimbursement of sponsor licence fee (even if unsuccessful), Certificate of Sponsorship fee, first 2 years of Immigration Skills Charge, Visa fees for GP trainee and their family.

Why do we need Certificate of Sponsorships?
The UK has a national shortage of qualified General Practitioners to meet the growing demands of the population. Typical recruitment efforts have not provided us with the suitable candidates required to fulfil General Practitioner roles within our practice.  The impact of this is extended waiting times for patients and greater pressure on our current workforce to meet the needs of our patients.

The role of a General Practitioner is one that requires many years of specialist training including: a full medical degree, two years of foundation medical training and at least three years of specialist GP training.  While there are concerted national efforts to increase the numbers of available GPs in the UK, this does not address the immediate pressure in our service and, for this reason, we anticipate needing to recruit from overseas.

The role of a General Practitioner has been included on the UK Shortage Occupation list as of 6 October 2019.


Further information

Latest information regarding entering and staying in the UK

Latest Tier 2 sponsorship information

Register/Apply for a sponsor licence

To identify the area a practice is in