Primary Care Visa Support – Frequently Asked Questions

This is an FAQ aiming to provide guidance on the most frequently asked questions around Tier2/ Skilled Worker/ Health and Care visa sponsorship for the following groups:

Doctors in Training

  • GP Doctors in Training who need a visa in advance of starting their GP training programme
  • GP Doctors in Training on a visa who are due to CCT in the next three months

International Induction Doctors

  • Qualified GPs who have applied to the international induction programme to obtain Skilled Worker visas and identifying existing or potential sponsoring practices

GP Practices 

  • Sponsoring practice information


Section 1: FAQs on visas prior to starting GP training

Section 2: FAQs on visas prior to reaching CCT

Section 3: FAQs for Doctors applying for the International Induction Programme

Section 4: FAQs on visas for GP practices wishing to become sponsoring organisations 

Section 5: FAQs on visas for GP practices employing a doctor under the International Induction Programme


Section 1: FAQs on visas prior to starting GP training

Q1. Where can I go for advice on visa requirements before the start of my GP training programme?

A. There are a number of organisations that can provide advice and guidance on how to prepare for visa requirements before you start your GP training:


Section 2: FAQs on visas prior to reaching CCT

Q1. How do I extend my Tier 2/Skilled worker visa once I have achieved my CCT?

A. There are a number of organisations that can provide advice and guidance on how to prepare for visa requirements as you approach the end of your GP training programme:

Q2. I need to extend my Tier 2/Skilled worker visa at the end of my training - can HEE do this for me?

A. No, HEE can only sponsor your visa while you are still in post graduate training. You need to apply for the visa yourself (see Q1 above).

Q3. What help can HEE provide me with finding a GP practice to work in once I have finished training?

A. HEE will contact those doctors who are on visas 6 months before training finishes, to offer to pass their details onto local workforce teams (either via the LMC or training hubs). They may be able to facilitate introduction to practices who are either sponsoring organisations, or who are interested in becoming one.

Q4. I have been given an extension to training, how do I get my visa extended and how much will it cost?

A. You will need to contact with the details of your extension as outlined on your ARCP form. Once verified, the HEE National Overseas Sponsorship Team will provide you with log in details to make an application for an extension CoS.

Please note, organisations can only request an extension CoS 3 months prior to the end date of your existing leave as per Home Office guidance.

More information can be found here on the HEE Overseas Applicants webpage.

Q5. How do I get a supporting letter for my indefinite leave to remain (ILR) application?

A. If your Tier 2/skilled worker visa expires before the end of training date, then you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. Please contact

There is more information on the HEE Overseas Applicants webpage.

Q6. Can I work less than full time (LTFT) if I am on a visa as a doctor in training?

A. Yes, but you have to meet minimum salary requirements. More information can be found here.

Q7. Where can I get more information on my current sponsorship with HEE

A. More information can be found on the HEE Overseas Applicants webpage.


Section 3: FAQs for Doctors applying for the International Induction Programme

Q1. What sort of visa do I need to apply for the programme?

A. You will need a Health and Care worker visa. This is slightly different from Skilled Worker visa. The Health and Care worker visa is fast tracked and is usually processed within 3 weeks of application. It also has a lower application fee. There is also no requirement to pay the annual healthcare immigration surcharge.

Q2. How do I apply for my visa?

A. International doctors make their application for the visa by applying online on the GOV.UK website

Health Education England or NHSE cannot apply on behalf of the doctor, but see Q5.

Q3. What documents do you need to apply for a visa?

A. The requirements can be found here. 

Q4. What document is required from the employing practice before applying for a Visa?

A. For applicants from outside the UK, the employing sponsoring practice needs to provide you with a “defined” certificate of sponsorship (CoS). You need to have obtained this before you apply for your visa.

Q5. Who can help with applying for the visa?

A. You can obtain help with your application from the British Medical Association.

The BMA might charge a membership fee if you want detailed support.

Other sources of advice are via Immigration Advisors. You should check they are fully registered and whether they charge a fee for advice.

Immigration advisors can also advise on the special requirements should you wish to work less than full time.

Q6. How much will my visa cost?

A. The current cost of the visa can be found here. NHS England will reimburse the doctor via the employing practice for the costs of their visa and the visas of any dependents. To make a claim contact your GP practice who will be able make the claim and then reimburse you directly (see section 4 below).

Q7. Should I apply to be on the national performers’ list (NPL) before I apply for my visa?

A. Yes. The CoS must be used by the doctor to make their visa application within 3 months of being issued. The doctor cannot, however, apply for their visa more than 3 months before the start date of the employment in the sponsoring practice.

As it can take more than 3 months for the National Performers’ List application to be completed, it is recommended not to apply for your visa until your NPL application has been completed.

Q8. How do I get help with my performers’ list application?

A. You will have been sent information about this when applying for the programme.
If you have any further questions regarding the NPL application, contact the NHS England team at:


Section 4: FAQs on visas for GP practices wishing to become sponsoring organisations

Q1. How do I apply to be a sponsoring practice?

A. Go to the website.

Q2. How long does the application process take?

A. It can take up to 16w to be processed, but most are approved after 4-6 weeks.

Q3. Where can I get further support and guidance to become a sponsor?

A. The following link contains a lot of useful guidance which is good to read before you start your application:

International GP Recruitment - GP Workforce Scheme Delivery Hub - FutureNHS Collaboration Platform

The link also includes a webinar, Q&As and step by step guide published in 2021 which will be updated periodically.

If you are not a member of the GP Workforce Scheme Delivery Hub:
If you are already a member of the FutureNHS platform, joining the hub is easy, just click “join” at the top of the homepage of the hub
If you are not a member of the platform but have an account, you need to complete a registration form which takes a couple of minutes
If you don’t have a account, you can ask to join the site or if you have a colleague who is already a member, they can invite you to join the site.

B. For further guidance on the sponsor licence application process please see the GP Practices Sponsor Licence Process webinar produced by the legal firm Magrath Sheldrick in association with the BMA.

Q4. Who can I contact if I have specific questions regarding becoming a sponsor?

A. If you need help regarding your application, please contact at NHS England. For help once you have made an application, please contact

Q5. How long does a sponsorship licence last for?

A. 4 years

Q6. What is the cost of a sponsorship licence?

A. As of August 2022, it is £536 (if you have 50 employees or fewer), or £1476 for larger organisations. For up-to-date fees, go to the GOV.UK website.

These fees are not currently reimbursed by HEE or NHSE. Some ICS’ may reimburse these costs and you should contact your local medical committee.

Q7. What is a certificate of Sponsorship CoS and licence number?

A. The Certificate of Sponsorship is a reference number, and not a physical document. It is used by the employer to effectively self-certify that the worker meets the requirements of the visa route, including skill level and salary.

The employer has to assign the correct type of CoS to the doctor.

Following changes to the Immigration Rules in December 2020, there are now two types of Certificate of Sponsorship – ‘defined’ and ‘undefined’ certificates of sponsorship.

  • Defined certificates of sponsorship (formerly ‘restricted certificates’) are issued to Skilled Worker visa applicants applying from overseas. For this type of certificate, employers apply through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) when they have gained their sponsor licence. The defined CoS will appear in the SMS account once approved, at which point the employer can assign it to the doctor.
  • Undefined CoS (previously known as ‘unrestricted certificates’) are required to employ Skilled Worker visa applicants already in the UK.

Q8. What is the sponsoring management system (SMS)?

A. Once you have your sponsoring licence, then you can manage CoS applications through the SMS.


Section 5: FAQs on visas for GP practices employing a doctor under the International Induction Programme only

Q1. What is the minimum salary on contract?

A. The GP needs to have a monthly net income of £3500 (the same as the bursary for non-employed doctors) as at August 2022. This is subject to tax and national insurance and NHS superannuation.

Q2. Can the Doctor work part-time?

A. Yes. There are no longer minimum hours, but there is a minimum salary requirement. As the situation is complicated, the doctor is advised to consult an immigration advisor to advise on their personal situation.

Q3. What length of employment is needed for a visa?

A. The doctor needs to be employed for a minimum of 6 months.

Q4. What happens at the end of the 6 months?

A. The international doctor needs to find further employment by a sponsoring organisation.

Q5. How do I get the employment costs reimbursed?

A. NHSE will reimburse the practice for the costs of the GP’s salary plus on-costs whilst they are on the programme. Once the GP completes the scheme, the practice will then become responsible for the GP’s salary.

Your NHSE regional team will provide you with guidance on how to reclaim the salary costs.

In addition, HEE will pay your practice a monthly supervision fee whilst the GP is on the scheme. This is paid at the same rate as the usual GP clinical supervision (Trainers') grant. Your HEE regional team will advise you on the process for claiming this.
In addition, there is a package of financial support available to the GP including help with registration fees and reimbursement of visa costs.