Recruitment of overseas doctors and dentists

Heel x-ray

Doctors and dentists will either be entering:

Foundation programme training

Health Education England is now the approved sponsor for foundation programme trainees under Tier 4 of the points-based system (effective from November 2016 when sponsorship responsibility changed from Health Education South London). Individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who have graduated from a UK medical school require a Tier 4 visa.

Employers should ensure that all non-EEA graduates of a UK medical school entering foundation programme training have the appropriate Tier 4 visa and are also advised to copy, store and record the visa details.

While students undertaking the foundation programme are in full-time employment during the course of the training, for Tier 4 purposes, the foundation programme itself is the course of study. This means that a trainee doctor on the foundation programme can also take further employment of up to 20 hours per week during term-time if they choose. 

Any queries relating to Tier 4 sponsorship for foundation programme trainees should be directed to Health Education England. 

Speciality training

Non-UK/EEA individuals who have successfully completed their foundation programme under Tier 4 are entitled to apply for leave to remain by moving into Tier 2, where they meet the criteria for that route.

Health Education England is now responsible for the sponsorship of all medical and dental trainees for their Tier 2 visa application in England. Health Education West Midlands administers the process on behalf of Health Education England.  This single sponsor system means trainees will not need to apply for new sponsorship if they change employers / location in England during their training.

Guidance on the eligibility of individuals applying for entry to specialty training programmes is available on the Health Education England website.

Evidence of immigration status should normally consist of a biometric residence card, date stamped passport, and accompanying letter from the Home Office. 

Please visit the GOV.UK website for more information. 


Medical Training Initiative

The Medical Training Initiative (MTI) scheme provides another possible entry route for overseas doctors wishing to work in the NHS. The scheme enables suitably qualified overseas postgraduate medical specialists to undertake a fixed period of training in the UK.
MTI can cover virtually any medical post, as long as it is designed to deliver training and education that will benefit the overseas-based appointee, and that they intend to return to their home country at the end. Find out more on our dedicated MTI page.

Other medical and dental posts

All other doctors and dentists requiring 'limited leave to remain' must meet the requirements of Tier 2. Employers must apply the resident labour market test unless the post appears on the shortage occupation list. On 6 October 2019, all medical occupations with the occupation code 2211 were added to the shortage occupation list. You can find more details about the shortage occupation list on our dedicated page.

These posts can include those with the title of trust doctor, clinical fellow, specialty doctor or consultant, among others. They cover all posts that do not carry an official training number allocated by the postgraduate dean.

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