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Tier 2 Sponsorship of International Doctors - What GP Practices Need to Know

on Monday, 05 March 2018.

Following reports that the NHS and GP practices are struggling to attract and retain doctors from the European Economic Area (EEA), GP practices are increasingly looking further afield to try to fill vacancies.

One solution is for practices to register with UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) as a licensed Tier 2 sponsor in order to sponsor doctors and other skilled workers from outside of the EEA. Here are four things for practices considering such a step to consider:

1. Think Carefully About Your "Key Personnel"

When applying for a Tier 2 sponsor licence, the business must nominate at least one employee or office holder as Authorising Officer, Key Contact and Level 1 user. All key personnel could be questioned by UKVI about any aspect of the business's sponsorship activities or their employment practices so should be sufficiently familiar with both sponsorship activities and the processes and systems in place to ensure ongoing compliance.

2. Are Your Right To Work Checking Processes Robust and Can You Demonstrate That All Current Employees Have the Right To Work in the UK?

All employers should already be checking that prospective employees have the right to work in the UK, and ideally will have documents on file as proof of this. Tier 2 sponsors and prospective sponsors are required to demonstrate that they do not pose a threat to immigration control and are therefore expected to have proof that all employees have the right to work in the UK and that they have systems in place for ensuring documents are checked and that employees have the right to work throughout their employment.

3. Are You Offering "Genuine Employment"?

A relatively recent change is that Tier 2 sponsors must be capable of offering genuine employment that meets the Tier 2 requirements. An assessment will be conducted of the role the business is planning to fill with a sponsored migrant to see whether it is at the required skill level, that the migrant worker the business has in mind is suitable and that, where required, a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) that complies with UKVI's requirements has been conducted to determine whether any settled workers should have been appointed instead. If UKVI believe that the role has been exaggerated in order to meet the skill-level requirement or exclude settled workers, then the application will be refused.

4. Ongoing Record-Keeping and Reporting of Changes is Key

Once the licence has been granted that's not the end of the matter: sponsors are required to comply with duties that principally revolve around record-keeping, monitoring and reporting. In a recent High Court case, UKVI's refusal to issue a Tier 2 sponsor licence to Exmoor Surgery in west London was upheld partly due to deficiencies in the records they had kept in connection with a previously conducted RLMT. The Court held that the burden is very much on sponsors to show that no suitable settled worker was available when the recruitment exercise was conducted and, if their records do not demonstrate this satisfactorily, UKVI is entitled to sanction the sponsor.

VWV's team of specialist immigration lawyers can assist GP Practices with the full range of immigration issues which might affect their practice, including applications for Tier 2 sponsor licences. For more information, please contact Tom Brett Young on 0121 227 3759.