Documents to download

A Westminster Hall debate has been scheduled for Wednesday 2 November on visas for international doctors, in the name of Matt Warman (Conservative).

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is calling for a change to the visa conditions for international medical graduates (IMGs).

It argues that the existing rules do not reflect the unique circumstances of international graduates undertaking specialist training in general practice and are undermining efforts to recruit and retain GPs to work in the NHS. In particular:

  • IMG GPs are not eligible to apply for permission to stay permanently until two years after completing their training, unlike people in specialities with longer training periods.
  • To be eligible for a visa allowing them to stay after their training to work as a GP (and ultimately apply for permission to stay permanently), international GPs must find employment with a GP practice with a visa sponsor licence before their existing visa expires, but practical and bureaucratic obstacles can make it difficult to do so in practice.

The RCGP is calling on the Government to ease the requirements for IMG GPs, such as by allowing them to apply for permanent permission to stay at the end of their training period or extending their visas to allow more time to find a sponsoring employer. In the RCGP’s view, the problems cannot be solved by providing support to GP trainees on visa issues and encouraging more GP practices to register as visa sponsors.

The Government’s position

Recent Immigration Ministers have been unreceptive to calls for change.

They have suggested that the best way to retain international GP trainees is to increase the number of GP practices registered to sponsor visas.

They have also maintained that international GP trainees should complete five years’ qualifying residence for indefinite leave to remain, in line with IMGs in other fields and other categories of skilled worker visa holders.

Documents to download

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