Skilled Worker Visa (Formerly Tier 2 Visa)
Navigating the GP Skilled Worker Visa (Tier 2 sponsorship) process webinar The BMA has partnered with legal firm Magrath Sheldrick, who oversee our immigration advice service, to develop a webinar on navigating the GP sponsorship process . The webinar is aimed at GP employers and offers practical tips on how to navigate the current sponsorship process to recruit non-UK nationals and addresses frequently asked questions on the process itself.
If you have any questions, or would like to share your experiences of navigating the sponsorship process, please contact Caroline Strickland, Senior Policy Advisor, International Affairs (email@example.com ) More information about certificate of sponsorship is available on here.
Recent surveys have shown that these visa's are in high demand in Somerset and we hope that all practices join to be a Skilled Worker Visa Sponsor, which the ICB have offered to fund. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Somerset LMC is compiling a list of practices who hold a Skilled Worker Visa Sponsor Licence or who are interested in applying for a licence. If this is you please email your details to the office - email@example.com. This list is then available on our jobs page for GPs who are looking to find employment with a Skilled Worker Visa sponsoring organisation.
Here is some information on the process and how to apply, for practices wanting to know more.
- Visa sponsorship step by step guide July 2021
- Visa sponsorship 15.07.21 final Q&A
- Visa sponsorship – practice webinar
- Supporting Trainees requiring Tier 2/Skilled working visa extensions post CCT
- Tier 2 visa sponsorship for GPs slide deck December 2019
- Becoming a UK Visa sponsoring Practice (May 2021)
Skilled Worker visas are an immigration route for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) clinicians wanting to work in the UK. They are also a route for practices struggling to recruit so you may wish to consider this alternative pathway to employees. Practices can apply to be a Sponsoring Organisation which can issue a licence to sponsor these clinicians.
Financial support from NHS England to cover the applications costs ended on 31st March 2020. However it may be that practices will be able to approach their ICB for reimbursement of costs associated with becoming a Skilled Worker Visa sponsoring organisation. Despite this uncertainty there may be some organisations for whom it may still be beneficial to apply for a sponsorship licence and therefore employ someone who requires a Skilled Worker visa.
- It will allow you to employ your registrar following their CCT if they are a non-EEA doctor
- Access to an expanded workforce to employ from
- Once you hold a sponsor licence it is valid for 4 years
Requirements of the practice
Significant trust is placed with the sponsorship organisation and the Home Office needs to establish 4 criteria when considering licence applications:
- You are a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK
- You are honest, dependable and reliable
- You can carry out your sponsorship duties, i.e. you have robust HR and recruitment processes
- You are offering genuine skilled, appropriately remunerated employment
How do you apply?
Applying to hold a Skilled Worker visa Sponsor Licence is quite a commitment. As with any application procedure it is important to ensure your supporting documentation is up to date and correct. Preparation is the key to success. NHS England recommends you invest a minimum of 2 days into the application process so be aware of this commitment at the outset but accept it could take longer. The process can seem a complex multi-stepped process with complicated guidance, but this is probably because the official Home Office guidance must cover all sectors and all eventualities. While not a substitute for the official guidance hopefully this simplified version will be beneficial for your practice and your patients if your vacancy can be filled.
Be aware there are time sensitive requirements along the way. Where relevant these have been highlighted below to help you prepare. For example, to prove your organisation is genuine and has an established trading presence in the UK you must ensure that all supporting documentation and the submission sheet is received within 5 working days from the date that you submit your online application. Other time sensitive actions are highlighted in this document.
The process is an online application - https://www.gov.uk/apply-sponsor-licence .
GPs included on the Shortage Occupation List - October 2019
On 29th May 2019 the Migration Advisory Committee published its recommendations that all medical practitioners including GP's should be added to the shortage occupation list (SOL). This means that the recruitment process for non-EEA GPs will be significantly quicker as since 7th October 2019 there is now no need for practices to satisfy the Resident Market Labour Test (RMLT)
The most recent changes to the SOL can be viewed at here .
Online Process for Skilled Worker Visa General Licence
Once you have all your documents to hand, the online form should take about 25 minutes to complete. If you get part way through it and need to stop, you can save the application mid-process. It is recommended to save each page as you complete it as your session will time out after 20 minutes of inactivity. You must be connected to a printer in order to print your submission sheet. Ensure the email address provided does not block/redirect to junk.
To complete the application form you will need to have collated the following information:
|Organisation details, Authorising Office, Key Contact, Level 1 user, other users & representatives *|
|The number of CoS you need (i.e. how many clinicians you are looking to sponsor during your first year as a sponsor) and your reasons for this number **|
|The names and trading date of your organisation if it has traded under another name in the last 4 years|
|Your organisation's size and sector|
|Documents required depend on organisation, a simplified list is below (also see note ***)|
|Mandatory document - Corporate/Business Bank Statement|
|Mandatory document - employers Liability Insurance Certificate for at least £5m from an authorised insurer|
|Mandatory document - Practice CQC registration details|
Supporting documentation - any further 2 from the following list:
|GMC Registration details of the senior partner and your RCGP registration details if you are a teaching practice|
|Details of any crimincal convictions or civil penalties|
|Payment details (card details)|
*Key personnel – the online form requires named persons to have certain responsibilities (note these roles can all be done by the same person). For a full description of each role click here.
- Authorising Officer – the most senior person responsible for recruitment
- Key Contact – main contact for Home Office
- Level 1 user – carries out the day to day sponsorship activities, more can be nominated once licence granted. Must be employee, director or partner. They are the person with the access to the Sponsor Management System, the online gateway between you and UK Visa and Immigration.
- (Optional personnel) Level 2 user – have fewer permissions than a level 1 user as can only assign CoS and report worker activity, if for example the worker doesn’t come to work.
**Once you have successfully applied for a licence you have an online account can apply to give out more.
*** It is your responsibility to check exactly which documents need to support your application, more details can be found here
Documents submitted must be the originals or certified copies, the Home Office will carry out an online check for the CQC and GMC documentation.
NHS England have provided a useful PowerPoint presentation which can “walk” you through how the online application looks page by page - Skilled Worker Visa Applications presentation.
What next and how much does it cost?
Once your online submission is complete you will need to print out the submission sheet and send it to UK Visa and Immigration with the supporting documents as soon as possible but within 5 days. Their address is:
Sponsor Casework officers
Sponsor applications team
UK Visas and Immigration
PO Box 3468
Most GP practices will be classified as small businesses. The Sponsoring Licence application fee for small businesses is £536. You are classified a small business if:
- Your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less
- You have 50 employees or fewer
The fee for medium and larger businesses is £1476.
Once you have a licence there is a cost for each certificate you issue which can be claimed back from NHS England. (Certificates are free for citizens of Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey.)
How long will it take to get a licence?
80% of applications are dealt with within 8 weeks.
The Department of Health and Social Care have a useful guide for Practices CREATING AND ASSIGNING CERTIFICATES OF SPONSORSHIP
Once you have the CoS details you need to give them to the clinician so that they can apply for their Tier 2 visa. They must submit their application within 3 months following the CoS being issued as after this it expires. This document will allow the individual to apply to UK Visas and Immigration to work for the duration of the contract up to a maximum of 3 years in the first instance.
If you are a GP who is applying for a Skilled Worker visa you are able to apply to claim your personal visa costs. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Remember as a practice once a licence is granted you are acting in an official capacity for the Home Office and need to log onto your online account regularly to ensure it remains up to date. A useful tip from one of our Practice Managers who has been through the process is to diarise a monthly log in to remain compliant in your responsibilities.
Immigration and Covid-19
If you are a doctor who has applied for a Skilled Worker visa and are awaiting a decision on your application please see here for the most up to date advice from the government.
If you are a practice who is sponsoring a Skilled Worker visa clinician then please see here for the most up to date advice from the government about employee absence due to Covid-19.
Certificate of sponsorship
This is a virtual document that enables a migrant to work in the UK. It is issued from a Skilled Worker Visa licence holder. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa. They must be used within 3 months from when they are assigned.
What is the shortage occupation list?
The shortage occupation list (SOL) is an official list of occupations for which there are not enough resident workers to fill vacancies. If a position is on the SOL then a sponsor can issue a Tier 2 certificate without the need to demonstrate the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) has been carried out.
Can a federation apply to be a Skilled Worker Visa sponsor to recruit?
It is important that the sponsor that issues the certificate of sponsorship is the employer of an individual and the structure of the organisation fulfils the necessary requirements. For example a large federation who is the key employer for a group of salaried doctors across different sites can become a Skilled Worker visa sponsor and issue certificates.
Further Resource list
For general information on Skilled worker visas see here.
Guide produced by NHS Employers here
With thanks to Wessex LMC for the above information.