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GP Practice - Visa Sponsorship Pathways

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) confirms details of an applicant and the job they have applied to do.

If an applicant is not a ‘settled worker’ or they do not have the appropriate immigration permission to work in the UK, they need to be sponsored if they wish to be employed by a GP Practice in Northern Ireland.

If you are a GP Practice and wish to employ an individual who requires a Skilled Worker Visa to work in the UK, then you will need to have a Sponsor Licence issued by the Home Office.

Useful Documents

Visa Sponsorship Pathway - for GP Practice requiring a Sponsorship Licence

Visa Sponsorship Pathway - for GPs requiring a Certificate of Sponsorship

List of GP practices with CoS licences

Information for IMGs needing a Sponsor

For general information relating to the process of NIMDTA sponsorship for GP specialty training, click here

Information for GP Practices:

If your practice is hoping to employ a newly qualified GPs, you may need to consider applying to become a UK visa sponsoring practice.

International medical graduates have excellent English language skills and knowledge of the NHS ways of working, but most of them will need visa sponsorship if they are to continue working in GP practices after they qualify. The process is straightforward and can be completed online.

Please click on this Step-by-step guide to becoming a Visa Sponsor (presentation shared in the webinar provided by NIMDTA November 2022)

In the webinar (video below) you can hear from practice managers in Northern Ireland about their experience of the process and learn some of their “top tips” for completing the application.

This link outlines the Home Office process of becoming a Sponsor and provides an overview of associated costs and responsibilities. The key points highlighted within the guidance are:


To apply for a Sponsor Licence you will need to pay an application fee. The fee depends on the type of licence you’re applying for and what type of organisation you are.

Full details on Licence Fees can be found here.

After a Sponsor Licence has been approved, you can provide a CoS to a Skilled Worker. The cost of a CoS is £199 and is payable for each CoS that is assigned.

In addition to the CoS costs, you might have to pay an additional charge when you assign a CoS, this is called the ‘immigration skills charge’.

There are some exemptions to this charge, full details including the costs can be found here.

Those applying for a Sponsor Licence would need to ensure there is a payment card available for payment of both the Licence fee and any individual sponsorships costs.

Licence Fees

Small Practice: One-off payment £536
Large Practice: One-off payment £1,476


Sponsorship Fees

GP Certificate of Sponsorship Fee £199 per GP
Immigration Skills Charge: Small Practice £364 per GP, per annum
Immigration Skills Charge: Large Practice £1000 per GP, per annum
Total Sponsorship Fee per Sponsor: Small Sponsor £563 per GP, per annum
Total Sponsorship Fees per Sponsor: Large Sponsor £1199 per GP, per annum


Application to become CoS Sponsor

You need to apply online for your licence, via this link.

You will need to provide supporting documents and the submission sheet when submitting your application, which are outlined here.

You will need to nominate key staff members within your Practice who will have specific certain responsibilities, information can be found here.

Most applications are dealt with in less than 8 weeks. You may be able to pay an extra £500 to get a decision within 10 working days. You’ll be told how to ask for a faster decision after you apply.

Home Office Responsibilities

There are responsibilities with becoming a Sponsor, full details can be found here. As a Skilled Worker Sponsor, you must:

  • check that your foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications, or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents showing this
  • only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship
  • tell UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa

Your licence may be downgraded, suspended or withdrawn if you do not fulfil these responsibilities.

Read the full guidance on sponsor requirements and duties and check workers have the right to work in the UK.