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Pre-registration students requiring visas

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Pre-registration students requiring visas

Providing you with the answers. Leyla Hannbeck, Chief Pharmacist at the NPA, writes about a new NPA resource regarding sponsorship and visa choices

I would like to bring to your attention the increasing number of queries received by the NPA Pharmacy Services team regarding sponsorship and visa choices for pre-registration students coming from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. Students currently studying in

the UK under a Tier 4 (General) student visa are allowed
to stay in the UK for four months on completion of their MPharm degree. Therefore, these students who wish to start a pre-registration placement will need to obtain a work visa. Additionally, Health Education England (HEE) is revising the current recruitment process for pre-registration students.

The “Visas and sponsorship: guidance”, explains the visa options available to foreign students and contains information on how you can become a sponsor. In summary:

  • The Royal Pharmaceutical Society Pharmacy Professional Sponsorship Scheme is no longer available for students who started their MPharm degree after April 2012 and expect to graduate in 2016
  • Ellis Whittam, an NPA Business Partner, operates an employment and health and safety advisory service available for all members free of charge – the firm can advise on basic immigration issues, or refer to a specialist if required
  • Visa options available are:
    • Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) – students from certain countries may be eligible if they meet the criteria
    • Tier 2 (General) – relevant to most students if they are eligible but this visa requires sponsorship from an employer 
  • Eligible employers may obtain a sponsor licence, which allows them to issue a certificate of sponsorship to potential foreign pre-registration students
  • Sponsors will need to carry out a resident labour market test (RLMT), which means advertising the placement – a foreign student is only to be employed if no suitable UK candidate is available
  • Sponsors will need to pay the student a minimum salary for the placement – this will increase in Autumn 2016 from £20,800 to £25,000 for ‘experienced workers’; further details on minimum salaries can be found in the UK visas and immigration (UKVI) document “Codes of practice for Skilled Workers (6 April 2015)”

I would like to further clarify information on carrying out an RLMT. As a general rule, a sponsor has to complete an RLMT before employing a worker who falls under the Tier 2 (General) category. However, the UKVI document “Tiers 2 and 5: guidance for sponsors” lists certain exemptions from carrying out the RLMT. According to this guidance, an RLMT does not need to be carried out if the following is applicable to the migrant: “Where they have, or were last granted permission to stay in the UK as a Tier 4 migrant or as a student and during their last grant of leave, or a continuous period of leave, that includes their last grant of leave, they have received final results confirming they have: Passed and will be (or have been) awarded a UK recognised bachelor’s or master’s degree”

Final results for all universities are released after final exams have been completed; they are usually held around spring/early summer. Hence, as per the exemption guidance above, pharmacy contractors who are considering employing a migrant pre- registration student prior to university final results being published, may be required to carry out an RLMT – advice should be sought from a lawyer specialising in immigration law.

This is an extract from a Superintendent Update. Members can download the NPA’s practical guidance and detail on Pre-registration students requiring visas at
Sign up to Superintendent Updates at account.

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