General Practice desperately needs more GPs

At present, in the UK, those from outside the EU who study in the UK to become a GP, on qualifying, find themselves in a difficult position. Unless they are employed by a Tier 2 Visa Sponsor, they are left with the choice of working in a hospital setting or leaving the UK to find work elsewhere as a GP.

As it currently stands there are a limited number of GP Practices with Tier 2 Visa Sponsor Licences to offer these newly qualified GPs roles and so some are choosing to take their education and leave. This blog will detail the benefits of becoming a Tier 2 Visa Sponsor and help you decide whether it could solve your recruitment shortages.

Before we continue, please be aware that here at Prospect Health we specialise in matching great GPs with roles where they can practice the medicine they have trained for so long to learn.  We support Practices through their journey of recruiting new GPs, offering advice and access to our exclusive candidates.

We are not experts in Home Office legislation, but we are experts in Primary Care recruitment and we think it’s important to raise awareness of Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship amongst General Practice, so that informed decisions can be made about recruitment practices.


Is it worth getting a Tier 2 sponsor licence?

If you are in a practice where you are struggling to recruit GPs, due to location or lack of resources in your area then the simple answer is YES!

  • As a Tier 2 Sponsor you will have exclusive access to GPs who are looking for a sponsor
  • Prospect Health works with GP Registrars who are actively looking for a sponsor
  • It provides you with a long-term solution – the GP must stay within your employment whilst working on a Tier 2 Visa and then most doctors go on to be granted indefinite leave to remain after a total of 5 years sponsorship
  • To meet the salary threshold your vacancy will require a minimum of a three day’s working pattern (6 sessions a week)
  • Your recruit will have studied General Practice and lived in the UK previously
  • Your sponsorship status lasts for 4 years meaning you can proactively plan for vacancies e.g. retirements or leavers.


Who needs a Tier 2 Visa?

A proportion of doctors come to the UK to complete their medical training. At the end of their training, if they are looking to work in a local practice, they require a Tier 2 Skilled Worker / Health and Care Worker visa to be able to continue to live and work in the UK, if they have lived in the UK for less than 5 years.

Whilst undertaking their GP training these Doctors have their Visa supported by the deanery or training practice, however on completion of their GP training this sponsorship ends and they then require a new sponsor. To be granted the new visa, they must have a new sponsor before they can apply. Their sponsor will issue a Certificate of Sponsorship, which results in the generation of an electronic record with a unique Certificate of Sponsorship Number that is required as evidence as part of their Tier 2 Visa and ‘leave to remain’ application. Qualified, English speaking doctors who have been living in the UK for at least 3 years, are an alternative source for a high quality workforce.


How much is a Tier 2 sponsor licence?

Initially the process will cost you a limited time and a small amount of investment. However, with a little bit of dedication and organisation the process can prove extremely cost effective in the long run – especially with the government allowing more sponsorship certificates to be granted.

Fees start at £536 for ‘small’ sponsors – a small sponsor has a turnover of less than £10.2 million, total assets worth £5.1 million or less, and you have less than 50 employees.


Is the Resident Labour Market Test still required?

The resident labour market test was required previously during the ‘Tier 2 General Visa’ application process but due to the change to ‘Tier 2 Skilled Worker’ it is no longer necessary. However, the Home Office may ask for details on why you have offered the role to the individual and how genuine the vacancy offer is and whether it meets the relevant salary and skill level for that role.


How do you get a Tier 2 Sponsorship licence?

The application process is all done online and you will need to spend time preparing before submitting your application. The application form requires you to give certain responsibilities to your staff you wish to appoint to manage the Sponsorship process. These roles include:

  • Authorising Officer – A senior and reliable staff member responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)
  • Key Contact – A staff member who is the main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
  • Level 1 User – A staff member responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS
  • Level 2 User (After receiving your licence) – This is a staff member who will be granted higher restricted access than a Level 1 User.

These roles can be filled by the same person or different people the choice is yours. The staff members you appoint will have access to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS), which is used to update any changes that may occur with your sponsored workers and licence. For example, managing / renewing your practice’s sponsorship licence, assigning Certificates of Sponsorship, reporting changes of your sponsored workers. For more details on what the SMS includes read here.


How to apply to be a sponsor?

The application process is all done online and you will need to spend time preparing before submitting your application.

To give you some idea of what is expected, read the list below:

  • Details of who you are, who works for you, including a hierarchy chart
  • Full job description
  • Evidence of any earlier applicants who were not suitable and why they were not suitable
  • Checks of your regulatory bodies – GMC etc.
  • Registration with HMRC

Things to remember when completing your application:

  • You will need your credit or debit card for the fees – fees start at £536 for ‘small’ sponsors – a small sponsor has a turnover of less than £10.2 million, total assets worth £5.1 million or less, and you have less than 50 employees.
  • There are four roles to be nominated to key personnel – 3 must be named on your application but one person can do all 3 roles
  • The application takes 30 minutes to complete and you need to follow up with your supporting documents within five days

How long does it take to get a Tier 2 sponsor Licence?

Most applications are dealt with in less than 8 weeks, UKVI may also need to visit your practice to verify you are trustworthy and capable.


What happens after my application for Tier 2 visa sponsorship is accepted?

After your application is accepted you will now be an A-rated (full sponsor) licence holder, this means you can start assigning GPs Certificates of Sponsorship, which they will use in their application process to be granted a Tier 2 Visa. To maintain your A-rating you will need to continue to meet your sponsorship responsibilities.


I am already a Tier 2 Visa sponsor, but my employee is struggling with applying for a Tier 2 visa?

If you already hold a licence for Tier 2 Visa sponsorship but your employee is struggling with the application process make sure to direct them to our guide on how to apply for a tier 2 visa.


Where can I apply?

To apply for your Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licence visit here. If you are still unsure on the whole process or need some advice and help finding GPs to sponsor, get in touch with our specialist GP recruitment  team who would be pleased to help and advise you.  We also have access to more than half of the newly qualified Registrar’s each year so can introduce you to suitable, newly qualified GP’s each year, should you be considering this route of recruitment.

You can contact one of the team on 01423 813 454 or alternatively email us at [email protected]