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Tier 2 Visa

If you’d like to gain a competitive edge in recruiting a Salaried GP to your practice then it’s worthwhile considering becoming a practice that supports a Tier 2 Visa. If you already have all the required documents then the initial online form to become a sponsoring practice should only take around 25 minutes – please read on to learn more.

Why should your GP surgery support a Tier 2 Visa?

  • Becoming a supporting practice allows you to recruit GPs from a larger pool of candidates, including GPs that other surgeries locally are unable to hire – it is a great opportunity for you to steal a march on other local practices
  • If your current GP registrar requires a Visa it will currently be supported by HEE, but to retain them as an employee beyond their training you need to become a supporting practice
  • Once your practice holds a licence it is valid for 4 years meaning if your Tier 2 GP receives Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in future then you can use the licence on another GP

What is a Tier 2 Visa?

Tier 2 Visas are an immigration route for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) clinicians who would like to continue working in the UK. Surgeries across the UK choose to become supporting practices, historically this has been in locations that are challenging to recruit GPs but in recent years with the great shortage of GPs this has also become commonplace in more urban areas which have traditionally been easier to recruit to, including London.

Which GPs require a Tier 2 Visa?

In my experience when speaking with practices about the possibility of sponsoring a GP who requires a Tier 2 Visa there appears to be a common misconception that these must be GPs who are coming from abroad with no experience of working in the NHS and UK primary care. This is incorrect. GPs requiring sponsorship are already qualified, living in UK and have completed the last 4 years of training in the UK including their ST1, ST2 and ST3 years. They are doctors with experience working within NHS primary care and will fit in like any other newly-qualified GP.

How to hire a GP who requires a Tier 2 Visa

Below is a brief outline of the process on how your surgery can become a Tier 2 supporting practice.

  1. Online Application: https://www.gov.uk/apply-sponsor-licence

Assuming you have the required documents available this should only take 25 minutes

  1. Print submission sheet and send to UK Visa and Immigration within 5 working days after filling out online application. This will cost either £536 or £1,476 depending on the turnover of your practice (consider contacting your CCG/ICS to see if they will part-fund your application, but don’t let it delay your application!)
  2. Begin your hunt to find a GP – you can speak to us on 0113 350 1308 for a no-obligation chat
  3. Wait for the Home Office to approve your Application (generally takes around 8 weeks)
  4. Once you’ve found the GP you’d like to support you need to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) number. The GP then uses this number to apply for a Visa, naming you as their sponsor
  5. That’s it – it’s now in the hands of your GP and the Home Office. This can take a few more weeks though the GP can pay for this to be fast-tracked as quickly as 24 hours

A recent example from a GP surgery in the North East who applied to become a supporting practice:

Kathryn Munro, Practice Manager of Peaseway Surgery in Newton Aycliffe, has recently made the application to become a Tier 2 sponsoring practice:

“We were asked by Menlo Park if we would be supportive of employing a GP who required Tier 2 Sponsorship. I had heard the process could be quite laborious so hadn’t really considered it as an option previously. Using this route to recruit, we have been lucky to uncover an excellent GP who requires sponsorship who will be joining us shortly.

“Following our offer of employment to the candidate, Alexa sent me a detailed overview of the initial application process which was really useful, and in reality it was straightforward and not as time consuming as I had anticipated. The GP we have hired will only require sponsorship for approximately 1 year which means we will be able to utilise other GPs requiring this type of support for future hires. I would recommend the scheme to other practices, especially those who have found recruiting GPs a challenge.”

Our advice on how to get started

Our advice to GP surgeries who are considering sponsoring a Tier 2 Visa is to start now!

It’s wise to make the decision to become a sponsor before you have a specific GP in the frame for the role due to the timeframes involved with the Home Office.

The reason for this advice is because many GPs who require a Tier 2 Visa, who are normally coming to the end of their ST3 year, are not aware of the timeframes involved for a practice to become visa-sponsoring, and as a result they leave their job-hunt too late! However, as a positive for your practice, this means that if you’ve already put the work in to become an approved sponsor it means that the Tier 2 GP will have limited options elsewhere and therefore is more likely to accept an offer of employment from you because you are ready to offer a CoS number – meanwhile other surgeries are starting an 8-week wait!

Finally, if you are approved to support Visas and don’t find a GP who requires a Visa then don’t worry, you have 4 years initially to find a GP to support so the time and money you have invested will not go to waste.

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