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NHS Jobs international medical recruitment scheme 

With some trusts experiencing difficulty recruiting doctors to fill vacancies, NHS Employers is working with NHS Jobs to help potential jobseekers outside of the EU identify opportunities that may attract Tier 2 sponsorship (formerly a work permit).

Initially, being piloted for medical vacancies, the approach could be rolled out to other staff groups in the future.


In the light of ongoing reports of difficulties in securing locum cover, NHS Employers published a framework outlining a range options available to employers to help them in managing medical vacancies in December 2008. The framework includes advice on how international recruitment, under the new points based immigration rules, can be used to attract non-EU doctors and international medical graduates to take up positions in the UK.

The points based immigration system

Current immigration rules prevent most jobseekers with Tier 1 (General) and HSMP status, whose immigration applications were made after 6 February 2008, from taking up training posts in the NHS. Most medical graduates from outside the EEA and Switzerland are therefore unable to use this immigration route to take up accredited training posts in the UK.

Tier 2, which has replaced the old work permit system, can be used by employers for posts that cannot be filled by a British or EEA worker, including medical training posts. Employers can sponsor overseas applicants to take up these roles, including training posts, under the rules of this category. The sponsorship certificate issued will support an application by the worker for immigration permission to enter the UK for work in a specified post. Permission can be granted for up to 3 years.

Detailed information on these and other rules surrounding employment under the points based immigration system can be found in our international recruitment section.

Working with NHS Jobs to promote opportunities to overseas applicants
NHS Jobs is one of the UK's most popular recruitment websites and lists thousands of vacancies drawn from every NHS employer across England and Wales. The service, which attracts many visitors and applicants from outside the EU, receives more than 4.5 million visits and over 250,000 applications every month

Visitors to NHS Jobs looking for opportunities which may attract Tier 2 sponsorship, previously posts which may have attracted a work permit, have often been hampered by the absence of clear search criteria by which they can find positions that may qualify for such immigration status. The Medical Workforce and NHS Jobs teams at NHS Employers have therefore developed a simple process for employers to highlight suitable NHS Jobs vacancy adverts to international applicants, helping them find and apply for qualifying vacancies quickly and easily.

Opportunities for which you wish to attract international applicants, which require and could qualify for Tier 2 sponsorship under the current regulations, simply need to include the exact text below in their NHS Jobs vacancy advert:

'This role may be suitable for non-UK or non-EEA job applicants wishing to apply for Home Office Tier 2 sponsorship'

We recommend that you copy and paste this phrase into your adverts to ensure the exact phrase is used. When re-advertising a vacancy to include this phrase, please ensure the "Show work permit message" box is unchecked in the Filter Questions options box to ensure that the 'unlikely to attract sponsorship' message is removed from the advert.

The NHS Jobs team will be providing a direct link to a list of all the medical vacancy adverts containing this phrase, and promoting this to international applicants before the end of January 2009. It is important that the exact phrase is used, or your vacancy will not appear in this bespoke listing.

Pilot study

Over the next few months we will be monitoring how this process is supporting employers and jobseekers in matching suitably qualified applicants to vacant medical posts in the NHS. If successful, we will consider ways in which the scheme can be rolled out to other NHS staff groups.

If you have any comments about this scheme or suggestion on how it can be improved, please contact the NHS Jobs team at, or use the contact link at the top of this page.

Further information and contacts

To find out about how to advertise vacancies on NHS Jobs or how you can make more effective use of online recruitment in managing your medical team, please contact your trust's HR or recruitment team in the first instance. Your trust's NHS Jobs account manager will be able to help you.

For further information about the points based immigration system, please see the web pages in our international recruitment section.

If you have any comments or suggestion about how we can improve the way in which NHS Jobs supports international medical recruitment, please contact the NHS Jobs team at

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