General Q&A

world map

General questions about immigration and international recruitment are answered in this section. This might be a useful starting point if you are looking to build your general understanding in this area.

If you are looking for information on visa extensions during the COVID-19 outbreak and other temporary measures for overseas staff during this time, please see our dedicated section.

Acronym glossary:

EEA - European Economic Area

MTI - Medical Training Initiative

Our organisation is thinking of recruiting healthcare professionals internationally for the first time. Can you advise us on the best way to do this, and which countries we should target?

You can read lots of tips and guidance in our international recruitment section and access our international recruitment toolkit. In terms of deciding which country to recruit from, one of the key decisions will be whether to look inside the EEA or further afield. The only firm guidance we can give is that employers must not actively target their recruitment activities at developing countries

What are the visa rules when recruiting healthcare professionals from within the European Union?

Individuals from most EEA countries and Switzerland are currently not subject to worker restrictions in the UK, as they are covered by the European principles of free movement. From the 31 December 2020 free movement ends and the inward migration of EEA nationals will fall under the new points-based immigration system.

Employers should always obtain evidence of an individual’s status as an EEA national during the recruitment process, in line with the NHS Employment check requirements. Also be mindful that professional registration requirements for EEA nationals wishing to work in the UK do vary between different healthcare professions, make sure to check with the relevant regulatory body to ensure the correct process is followed. 

We wish to appoint an individual who has entered the country as a Tier 2 dependant. Can they switch from a dependant visa to Tier 2 visa in country?

Yes, under the new immigration system, in-country switching will be permitted for most migrants. Find out more in the Home Office details statement.

Is there a Tier 3 route under the points based system?

No. There were previous plans for Tier 3 to accommodate low-skilled migrant workers, but the route was never implemented. 

What is the Tier 5 route, and how might employers in the NHS use this route?

Tier 5 of the points-based immigration system allows UK employers to recruit individuals from outside the EEA and Switzerland for up to 24 months under the temporary worker or youth mobility categories.
The Medical Training Initiative (MTI) is a recognised exchange scheme under the Tier 5 temporary worker category. MTI enables suitably qualified overseas postgraduate medical specialists to undertake a fixed period of training in the UK, normally within the NHS. This is also up to a maximum stay of 24 months.
Switching from Tier 5 into other tiers is not permitted and the temporary nature of this tier means that there is no route to settlement. 

How do NHS visitors from overseas get clearance to enter the UK?

In April 2015 the categories for visitors were simplified, and the previous business visitor route is now consolidated within the visitor (general) route. This route exists outside of the points-based system and may be used for NHS visitors in scenarios such as an overseas doctor completing an observership in the UK. 

It is important to remember that if an individual is entering the UK with the intention of taking up employment, the visitor route is not appropriate. 

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