September 08, 2018

Guide to Live and Work in the UK for Medical and Allied Health Professionals

Are you an internationally trained and qualified healthcare professional (like doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, lab scientist, etc) and planning to migrate to the UK to settle and work? This article contains information for overseas qualified healthcare professionals, including information on registration and immigration.

Recruiting healthcare staff in UK

The major recruiter of healthcare professionals in the UK is the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland were established together in 1948 as one of the major social reforms following the Second World War. The founding principles were that services should be comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery. Each service provides a comprehensive range of health services, free at the point of use for people ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, apart from dental treatment and optical care.

International recruitment is an option mainly used by NHS employers trying to fill vacancies in certain UK geographical areas or professions in the UK with recognised skill shortages. Unless you have the right to work in the UK, NHS organisations in most instances are first required to fill vacancies from the resident labour market (including a national of a country in the EEA) before looking to overseas candidates.

Do you need a visa to work in the NHS?

If you are not a British citizen, a national of a country in the EEA or Switzerland, you will need permission from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to work in the UK and may also need entry clearance before you travel to the UK. UKVI is responsible for managing migration in the UK; to obtain a visa or entry clearance, you will need to meet its requirements. Find out more about the immigration rules.

The Home Office is responsible for governing the way individuals from outside the EEA can work, train or study in the UK. Further information for all new applications from non-EEA nationals can be found on the points-based system page of this website.

Is there a limit on the number of non-EEA nationals entering the UK to work?

Yes, there is currently a limit on the number of migrants allowed to enter the UK to work. Very recently, however, doctors and nurses have been taken off the list for Tier 2 visas. Applications are assessed using a points system that is intended to only allow entry to those whose skills will benefit the UK. The number of points required, and the way the points are awarded, depend on the category under which individuals apply, but will reflect their qualifications, experience, age, previous earnings and language competence. For more information, see the immigration application process.

Under the points-based system, UKVI will decide who is admitted to, or allowed to stay in, the UK. Information about the points system is available on the UKVI website and may be subject to change. You are advised to check the website to establish which route of entry you are eligible to apply for.

The UKVI points calculator was put out of service on 10 April 2016, please visit the visas and immigration page for more information on the points based system and eligibility.

Where can I find information specific to my profession?

The NHS has developed information unique to specific healthcare professionals from overseas. We, therefore, have published more information on specific details for the healthcare professions listed out below and added appropriate links to their corresponding pages:
The above article is reproduced from material entitled 'Overseas health professionals' as provided by NHS Health Careers. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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