Tier 2 Visas for Practices

Somerset LMC is compiling a list of practices who hold a Tier 2 visa Sponsor Licence or who are interested in applying for a licence.  If this is you please email your details to the office - somersetlmc.office@nhs.net. This list is then available on our jobs page for GPs who are looking to find employment with a Tier 2 visa sponsoring organisation. 

Here is some information on the process and how to apply, for practices wanting to know more.

Tier 2 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 CCG for reimbursement of costs associated with becoming a Tier 2 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 Tier 2 visa.

Practice benefits

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:

  1. You are a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK
  2. You are honest, dependable and reliable
  3. You can carry out your sponsorship duties, i.e. you have robust HR and recruitment processes
  4. You are offering genuine skilled, appropriately remunerated employment

How do you apply?

Applying to hold a Tier 2 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 Tier 2 General Licence

The Department of Health and Social Care have a useful guide for Practices on BECOMING A TIER 2 VISA SPONSOR

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:

  • HMRC Registration - PAYE Reference Number/Account Office Reference Number
  • Proof of business premises ownership/Fixed Assets ownership/Lease
  • Supporting letter from your bank manager
  • HMRC Registration - VAT
  • HMRC Company Tax Form CT603 AND CT600
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

**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 - Tier 2 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
Sheffield
S3 8WA

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:

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.

What next?

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 Tier 2 visa you are able to apply to claim your personal visa costs. Email england.intrecruitment@nhs.net 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 Tier 2 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 Tier 2 visa clinician then please see here for the most up to date advice from the government about employee absence due to Covid-19.

Glossary

Certificate of sponsorship

This is a virtual document that enables a migrant to work in the UK.  It is issued from a Tier 2 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 Tier 2 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 Tier 2 visa sponsor and issue certificates. 

Further Resource list

For general information on Tier 2 visas see here.

https://www.nhsemployers.org/your-workforce/recruit/employer-led-recruitment/international-recruitment/immigration-rules-and-the-points-based-system/tier-2/resident-labour-market-test

Further reading about Tier 2 on NHS Employers website.

More information for commissioners and practices here.

Guide produced by NHS Employers here.

For full guidance here.


With thanks to Wessex LMC for the above information.

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