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Immigration Solicitors

Strict Immigration Law Restricting NHS Doctor Recruitment (9 May 2018)

Date: 09/05/2018
Duncan Lewis, Immigration Solicitors, Strict Immigration Law Restricting NHS Doctor Recruitment

Doctors from outside of the EU are required by law to be registered to work in the UK. They must obtain a Licence to Practice if they wish to continue their profession in the UK and exercise various legal privileges associated with the profession, such as writing prescriptions and signing death certificates. The regulatory body that registers doctors is called the General Medical Council (GMC).

National Health Service employers are pressing the Home Office to exempt skilled employees from Tier 2 visa requirements as immigration quotas restrict their ability to hire medical staff. The Home Office grants 20,700 Tier 2 visas for skilled migrants from outside the EEA each year, with a monthly limit of about 1,700. About one third go to NHS employees.

For the first time, the number of Tier 2 applicants breached the monthly limit for two consecutive months in December 2017 and January 2018. There was a view from Immigration lawyers and other experts that many of the hundreds of rejected applicants would reapply for the roughly 2,600 spaces available in February and March, pushing the excess numbers into the new financial year in April. The figures however did not change. This visa cap has hit the NHS hard, in particular due to the high salary threshold to gain points under the Tier 2 route.

A first-year junior doctor typically earns £26,500, rising to £31,000 in their second year. To get a visa, most non-EEA junior doctors usually have to be earning £30,000, or £20,800 if they’re under 26. However, at the end of 2017 the threshold was effectively £55,000.

The BBC reported on 27th April 2018 that:-

Immigration rules are hampering the ability of the NHS to recruit doctors, health leaders are warning.

The number of skilled non-EU workers granted UK visas is capped - with the Home Office arguing the restriction is in "the national interest".
But NHS bosses say an increasing number of doctors are being refused a visa to the UK, which is worsening rota gaps and the increasing the wait patients face for treatment. This comes amid a row after visas for 100 Indian doctors were refused.

A Home Office spokeswoman told the BBC that the system was in “the national interest”, and any Tier 2 applications - as they are known - which are refused in oversubscribed months could reapply in future ones.

BBC reported in February 2018 that:-

The NHS in England has nearly 100,000 jobs unfilled, a situation described as "dangerously" understaffed.

The total represents 1 in 12 of all the posts in the health service and would be enough to staff 10 large hospitals. It includes 35,000 nurse posts and nearly 10,000 doctor vacancies.

The figures have been revealed in a finance report, showing NHS services are heading for a £931 million deficit this year, twice what was planned.

Despite being short of staff, hundreds of medical professionals are refused visas from overseas. The GMC therefore is pushing for a flexible visa process for medical professionals; however until they succeed in this mission the same Tier 2 rules applies to all skilled workers.

Author, Tamana Aziz is a Director of Immigration specialising in Business Immigration law under the Points Based System. Recommended in Legal 500 2017 as ‘a great communicator’ and a ‘very committed’ individual in her field, Tamana has developed an expertise in dealing with complex appeals (including deportation appeals and country guidance cases) in the Immigration Tribunals, High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Tamana advises employers and provides bespoke training on subjects such as compliance with the Home Office’s Prevention of Illegal Working regime and how to use the online sponsorship management system. In addition, Tamana advises high net worth and skilled individuals on extending Tier 2 (General) visas, spousal applications, applications for settlement and British Citizenship. Tamana also has significant experience assisting clients with immigration applications under EU law.

Contact Tamana on 020 3114 1130, or email her at tamanaa@duncanlewis.com.


Duncan Lewis Immigration Solicitors

Duncan Lewis Immigration Solicitors is recognised by Legal 500 2017 for our "strong track record representing SME clients". As one of the UK’s leading firms of immigration specialists we are able to advise on business immigration and right to work in the UK, Tier-2 visa applications and appeals, student and graduate visas, spousal visas and visa overstays.

Our specialist business immigration solicitors will be able to advise businesses and individuals on any changes to UK immigration law during Brexit negotiations and after 29 March 2019, post-Brexit. Our broad practice provides a full service to SME business clients across the UK in relation to the Points Based System (PBS); Sponsorship license applications and immigration strategy/compliance advice.

For expert legal advice on international recruitment and UK business immigration law, call Duncan Lewis business immigration solicitors on 0333 772 0409.


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