Tier 2 and the NMC registration process Q&A

globe and paper figures

 

This section answers common questions around Tier 2 and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration process. For further information, please visit our OSCE information page.

Acronym glossary

OSCE - Objective Structured Clinical Exam

CoS - Certificate of Sponsorship

NMC - Nursing and Midwifery Council

UKVI - UK Visas and Immigration 

What are the changes in the NMC registration/OSCE process for overseas nurses?

The NMC introduced changes to its registration process for overseas qualified nurses from 6 April 2017 to allow applicants the opportunity to sit an OSCE for a third time within the same application.

On 10 December 2018, the NMC introduced further changes to the process which allows individuals to re-sit an OSCE as early as ten working days after their second attempt. Previously, they had to wait three months before they could re-sit the test.

These changes are part of the NMCs review into its overseas registration processes, to help ensure the application process for individuals coming to the UK from overseas in simpler and quicker. It will benefit those applicants on Tier 2 visas as it brings the NMC overseas registration process in line with the eight month time limit granted by their visa to successfully complete their OSCE.
   
Applicants also now only have to re-sit the elements of the test that they failed the first or second time. Test centres have aligned the re-sit fees against the new re-sit policy. The reduced re-sit fee of £496 will now be offered to all applicants who have failed four or fewer stations, regardless of which part of the exam they failed.  

For applications started after 6 April 2017:

Computer Based Test (CBT)
Applicants can sit the first part of the test of competence (the CBT) twice as part of one application.

  • If an applicant is unsuccessful at their first CBT they must wait a minimum of 28 working days before they can sit the CBT again.
  • If an applicant is unsuccessful after their second CBT, their application will close. They will be required to wait six months before submitting a new eligibility application to take the test again.
Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE)
Applicants may sit the second part of the test of competence, the OSCE, up to three times as part of one application.

  • If an applicant is unsuccessful at their first OSCE, they must wait a minimum of 10 working days before they can take the examination again.
  • If an applicant is unsuccessful at their second OSCE, they must wait a minimum of 10 working days after their previous attempt before they can take the OSCE for the third time.
  • If the applicant is unsuccessful after their permitted attempts, their application will close. They will be required to submit a new application but will not be able to sit the OSCE again for a minimum of six months.
You can find more information about the changes on the NMC website.
 
The overseas nurse registration process requires applicants to sit a test in the UK before they can legally practice as a nurse, how does this work with the Tier 2 visa process?
The NMC introduced a new process for overseas nurse registration in October 2014, which includes the requirement for applicants to complete a practical test (OSCE) in the UK prior to gaining registration. In March 2015, the Tier 2 visa process was amended to reflect the need for nurses to gain entry to the UK in order to sit the OSCE, prior to officially commencing employment as a nurse. This amendment enables pre-registration nurse candidates to now enter the UK and prepare for the OSCE, while working as a pre-registration candidate, for up to three months.

See our web section on recruiting overseas nurses for more information.

From which date does the applicant have three months to sit their first OSCE attempt - is it the date they enter the UK or the date on the CoS?

The applicant has up to three months from the employment start date noted on the CoS to sit the OSCE exam. If a candidate fails the OSCE at first attempt they will need to re-sit the test within a maximum of eight months from the start of their visa. As of 6 April 2017, applicants can sit the OSCE up to three times as part of one application. Employers must notify UKVI within 10 working days when a re-sit date is confirmed.

If a candidate fails their permitted number of re-sits, or if there are other reasons that the sponsorship / employment will not be pursued any further, the individual will lose their right to remain in the UK.

Please visit our OSCE information page for more details.

Are there any plans for new test centres, especially a more northern location?
The NMC opened an additional test centre at Ulster University in Northern Ireland to join the test centres already at Oxford Brookes University (both their Oxford and Swindon sites) and The University of Northampton is now also holding the OSCE in a new, larger venue which almost doubles the capacity for OSCE tests.

OSCE waiting times and the booking process can be time consuming – what is being done to help with this?
The additional OSCE test centre at Oxford Brookes University (Swindon and Oxford locations) and larger OSCE test venue at the University of Northampton will help with the availability of OSCE test dates.

For more information and help with the booking process please visit the OSCE information pages for:

Ulster University  
The University of Northampton
Oxford Brookes University

Are there plans to increase the capacity for OSCE test date appointments?
The University of Northampton is holding the OSCE in a new, larger venue which almost doubles the capacity for OSCE tests. The new test centre at Ulster University along with the choice of two locations at Oxford Brookes University (Oxford and Swindon) is helping increase OSCE test date capacity.

Why are the OSCE pre-course preparation materials only provided to candidates and not to trusts?
At the moment the NMC OSCE test centres do not have the necessary permissions for this information to be shared with trusts.  However, candidates who are enrolled on the course have full access to all preparation materials.
 
If a nurse fails OSCE, in the 60 day grace period, can they find an alternative sponsor (without leaving the country)? 
Yes, however this does not extend the overall eight month time limit between starting work in Tier 2 as a pre-registration nurse (with the first sponsor) and needing to obtain NMC registration.

If an employee fails their OSCE, do employers get a notification of when the 60 day grace period ends?
Sponsors are not currently notified when an individual’s curtailed leave expires.  If you have notified UKVI that an individual has failed to pass the OSCE within the 8 month deadline, you should check with the individual when their leave will end.

Can you apply for a Tier 2 CoS for an applicant who is currently employed elsewhere on a Tier 2 visa, within their first eight months of employment and who has not yet passed their OSCE?
Yes. However this does not extend the overall eight month time limit between starting work in Tier 2 as a pre-registration nurse (with the first sponsor) and needing to obtain NMC registration (passing the OSCE with eight months).

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