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IMG GP visa extension to come into effect ‘shortly’

IMG GP visa extension to come into effect ‘shortly’

International medical graduate GPs will get a four-month visa extension ‘automatically’ after their training, the immigration minister has confirmed.

Robert Jenrick said that the Government will be amending immigration rules ‘shortly’ to cater for international medical graduate GPs arriving from the autumn, so they can benefit from the extension automatically.

He was answering a written question from North Down MP Stephen Farry, who had asked the Home Office to confirm plans for a four-month visa extension for newly trained international medical graduates, which had been announced as part of the primary care recovery plan in May.

Mr Jenrick said: ‘We will be amending the immigration rules shortly to cater for international medical graduate GPs arriving from the autumn so they can benefit from the four-month extension automatically.

‘We are also working closely with the relevant UK health bodies and UK Visas and immigration to ensure that this is as straight forward as possible for those already in country, and those due to complete their training this year.

‘In conjunction with these changes, we continue work to encourage more GP surgeries to become Home Office sponsors.

‘This will allow surgeries to recruit international medical graduates more efficiently on completion of their training.’

In May the Government had announced that international medical graduates will be granted a four-month visa extension after completing GP specialty training from autumn 2023.

Without indefinite leave to remain (ILR), IMGs must be employed by a practice with a visa sponsorship licence in order to continue working in the UK.

Around 30% of IMG GP trainees responding to a survey by the RCGP last year said they found the visa system so difficult they were considering giving up on their plans to work as GP in the UK. 

And in June last year the RCGP told MPs that recently qualified GPs were receiving deportation letters soon after receiving their CCT. 

In March, the BMA wrote to Mr Jenrisk calling for a six-month ‘grace period’ for IMG GP trainees which would ‘help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety’ experienced at the end of their specialty training. 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) then confirmed to Pulse that it was ‘working with the Home Office’ to ‘explore all possible solutions’ to the visa challenges faced by this cohort. 

The recovery plan also said that, working with the Home Office, ‘NHS England will continue to increase the number of GP surgeries holding visa sponsorship licences’.

NHS England and the Home Office had also been looking into whether ‘umbrella bodies’ such as ICBs could sponsor IMG GPs to remain in the UK.