International recruitment

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Recruitment from outside of the UK has made a valuable contribution in the NHS over the years and forms an important part of the workforce supply strategy of NHS organisations.

Over recent years the Home Office has introduced a number of changes to the immigration system governing the way individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland can work, train or study in the UK. They include tough measures to prevent illegal working and a limit on the number of migrants that organisations can employ under Tier 2 of the points-based system. Our immigration rules - the points-based system page explain the immigration points based system in more detail.

Download PDF version of Immigration Prezi: Routes to Employment in the NHS (682Kb)

Restarting international recruitment

Restarting international recruitment following COVID-19

COVID-19 has paused overseas travel, but as international routes begin to reopen, NHS organisations are restarting their international recruitment to support their COVID-19 recovery plans.

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Employing EEA nationals

There are procedures for employers to consider when recruiting nationals from countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).

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The new points based immigration system

The new points-based immigration system is being phased in ahead of launch from 1 January 2021. This section explains the new system, eligibility criteria and next steps.

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English Language Requirements

Find the latest information on IELTS and OET for international healthcare recruitment and compare these tools against your recruitment needs.

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International recruitment toolkit

We have produced an international recruitment toolkit designed to support NHS staff who are leading and delivering international recruitment. It aims to encourage and enable good practices and processes for the recruitment of staff across a wide range of professions.

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Immigration and international recruitment - Q&As

Get answers to your questions about immigration rules and international recruitment.


Immigration rules and the points-based system

Regulates the number of individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland wishing to work, train or study in the UK.

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Shortage occupation list

An official list of occupations for which there are not enough resident workers to fill vacancies.

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Preventing illegal working

A summary of the legal requirements for employers to prevent illegal working.

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Code of Practice for international recruitment

Ensuring ethical international recruitment practices operate within the NHS through adherence to the WHO Code of Practice. 

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Immigration Quick Guides

Our quick guides highlight key information to help employers understand the important elements of the international recruitment process.

Related News

Package of measures to support international nurse recruitment announced

NHS England and NHS Improvement have shared a letter with directors of nursing and regional chief nurses, outlining a new package of resources to support international nurse recruitment.

View article

Calendar of awareness days for recruitment launched

We have launched a handy calendar to help you plan your recruitment, career promotion strategy and activities.

View article

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