Medical doctors in training from outside the European Union will be barred from entering the United Kingdom under Tier 1 as General Highly Skilled Migrants, part of Britain's new 5-tier points based immigration system. The Home Office announced the new restrictions on 06 February 2008.
The decision is expected to reduce the number of training applicants by an estimated 3000 to 5000 during 2009 in an effort to open up more slots for British-trained medical graduates. Competition for posts has increased in recent years as the UK produces more medical graduates.
However, doctors in training already in the UK under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) will be excluded from the new rules and can extend their stay in the UK if they can qualify under the normal criteria of Tier 1. Because of this, competition for posts will still be tight.
Last year, in an effort to circumvent this, the Department of Health tried to implement guidance for National Health Service (NHS) employers which would require NHS to look for doctors within the UK or the European Union first, before hiring non-EU foreign applicants resident in the UK.
However, this was rule was overturned by the Court of Appeal. The government has appealed this decision and the case is scheduled to be heard by the House of Lords in the future.
The new rules for doctors in training were announced as more details were released on the United Kingdom's new points based system.
Beginning 29 February 2008, all migrants currently in the UK under HSMP will be required to extend their leave to remain under the new Tier 1 rules for General Highly Skilled Migrants. Starting in April, Indian nationals applying for the first time from abroad will be required to qualify under the new criteria, followed by all other countries in the summer of 2008.