Doctor, Doctor? Tier 2 Caps and the NHS Crisis

08 May, 2018

The NHS winter crisis of 2017 was unprecedented in scale, with the British Medical Association noting that these pressures could well carry on in to the summer of 2018. It has been a matter of some consternation then that around 100 Indian doctors were refused entry to the UK in March. The intention was that they would have been able to provide assistance to around 30 NHS Trusts.

The numbers of skilled workers who are allowed to enter the UK from overseas is capped. The Prime Minister, when Home Secretary, envisioned this would ensure only the ‘brightest and best’ would be able to come and work here. Depending on the month, around 1,500-2,200 spaces are available for what are known as Tier 2 (General) migrants to come to the UK. These applicants will all have done the following:

  • Located a UK employer with a Certificate of Sponsorship, meaning they can employ foreign workers.
  • Be offered either a degree/PhD level job and being paid an appropriate salary.
  • Have sufficient funds to maintain themselves and speak the required level of English.
  • The job (in most circumstances) must have previously been offered to the domestic labour market and can only be offered to foreign workers should no suitable candidate be found.

All applications go in a monthly ballot and are ranked according to salary. As long as there are no more applicants than there are spaces, everyone should be allowed to enter the UK as a worker. If there are too many applicants, those on lower salaries are removed from the ballot. In months where not all spaces are used, these are passed over to the following month. The issue is that, in 2018, all months have seen numbers of applicants very close to, or above, the limit. The greater the number of applicants, the higher the salary required to succeed. In March 2018, an astonishing salary of £60,000 would have been required to come to the UK.

This has lead to much-needed debate as to who the Tier 2 cap serves. Do we value professionals only by their salary or what skills they can bring to the UK? Do we need to consider the needs of the NHS separately to other industries and prioritise those applying for public service roles? Regardless, the system at the moment is causing a lack of faith in the UK as a destination for those who have skills we desperately need.

Our immigration team are experts in all aspects of immigration law. If you have a Tier 2 immigration enquiry, our team will be happy to assist you.