Right to Work/Visa FAQs

Please note that from 5th October 2020, the Student Visa has replaced the Tier 4 (General) Visa.

HEE and the UKFPO are not qualified immigration advisors and cannot offer immigration advice.

General Information

Am I eligible for Health Education England (HEE) Student Visa sponsorship?

Non-UK nationals who graduate from a UK medical school wishing to undertake a two-year full-time Foundation Programme (including academic programmes), who do not possess right to work in the UK, are eligible to apply for Student Visa sponsorship. Doctors from non-UK medical schools are not eligible to apply for Student Visa sponsorship.

How does the HEE Student Visa process work?

Please refer to the Student Visa process flow chart here which outlines key stages of the process.

What is the role of HEE, my foundation school and the employer?

HEE is the official Student Visa sponsor for doctors following the recognised UK Foundation Programme.

Foundation schools and employers work in partnership as secondary sponsors, managing the reporting and monitoring of all the Student Visa sponsored doctors. To meet the requirements of this partnership, foundation schools need a firm and robust reporting mechanism to exist between them and the employer/local education provider. Furthermore, employers have responsibilities under employment legislation.

What are the terms and conditions of HEE sponsorship?

Every doctor applying for HEE sponsorship must comply with the following terms and conditions of sponsorship:

I commit to immediately notify the HEE of any of change in circumstance, specifically:

• If I no longer intend to use/submit the unique CAS as issued to me

• If there is any change in circumstance (name change, address etc.)

• If my Student Visa application is rejected by the Home Office

• I do not turn up for the first day of work (for example a missed flight etc.)

• If I discontinue the Foundation Programme (for example, resign or dismissal)

• If the length of my Foundation Programme changes (for example, maternity leave, statutory sickness period, remedial or extended training period is required)

• If there is a change in salary (but not an annual pay rise or a bonus)

• If I intend to transfer to another foundation school

I understand that:

• A CAS is issued on the basis that I provide a copy of the medical degree certificate and new Student Visa as soon as they are received, and strictly by no later than the set deadlines.

• I must ensure that all personal details, educational details and valid documents, are kept up-to-date within my Student Visa account for the duration of sponsorship (e.g. updating change of address, uploading a copy of a new passport etc.)

• I cannot study the Foundation Programme on a part-time basis

• I cannot breach the conditions of my Student Visa (for example, undertaking other part-time work unrelated to the FP)

• If I miss x10 ‘expected contacts’ or if I take more than 10 days unauthorised leave (without my employer’s permission); my sponsorship will be immediately revoked.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) Application Process

What is a CAS?

CAS stands for Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. It is a virtual document containing a unique reference number and information about you and your course of study.

Before a doctor can apply to the Home Office for permission to enter/remain in the UK under Student Visa, HEE must assign a unique, confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) to each doctor.

The CAS confirms to the Home Office that the doctor has been given an unconditional offer of a place on a Foundation Programme with a licensed Student Visa sponsor. The CAS number should be used to complete and support the Home Office Student Visa application.

Important: a CAS is only valid if:

• it contains the same details given on the Student Visa account and supporting documents;

• it was assigned no more than six months before the date of Home Office application; and

• if it has not been withdrawn or cancelled by HEE or the Home Office.

How do doctors apply for a CAS?

The Student Visa process provides full details of how to apply for a CAS.

If you have fully completed an application via the HEE Overseas Sponsorship Portal, before the specified deadline, you will receive a CAS by email from HEE on the date specified.

Why do doctors need to register for a personal on-line HEE Sponsorship Portal?

The online portal is an essential part of the HEE sponsorship process. It is where you must upload your documents to provide evidence to HEE of your identity so that they can issue you with a Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to help you apply to the Home Office for your Student Visa. The personal details you enter into your account will be used to produce your CAS, so it is vitally important that you keep all the information up-to-date or it could jeopardise your sponsorship.

The online account helps HEE to fulfil its role as your sponsor, so failure to keep your details and documents updated could result in your sponsorship being withdrawn.

How do doctors register for a personal, online HEE Sponsorship Portal account?

All applicants who require a visa and have applied via the national allocation system for a Foundation Programme will be sent an email inviting them to apply for an online account shortly after the first round of allocations to foundation schools. Please see the Student Visa process.

Please note that Foundation Programme applicants who are placed on the national reserve list will not be able to register for an account until they have been allocated to a specific Unit of Application/foundation school.

What details/documents does HEE require in order to assign a CAS?

Once you have received an email to invite you to register for an online Portal, you must:

1. Agree to the Terms and conditions of sponsorship

2. Complete all sections in the ‘Personal details’

3. Complete all sections in the ‘Educational details’

4. Passport Information Section

I. This page is needed to verify the doctor’s identity and validity of the passport; the passport expiry date must therefore be visible. If the expiry date/extension is on another page, doctors must upload a single document with both the photo page and expiry page in one document.

5. Visa Information

II. Pre- HEE (medical student) Visa

III. This is needed as proof of to show the doctors previous Tier 4 / Student Visa, as used to undertake the UK medical degree.

6 Medical Degree Certificate

HEE recognises that the date of issuing medical degree certificates varies greatly across UK. HEE will therefore issue a CAS on the basis that a copy is uploaded as soon as it is received (and by strictly no later than the 1st November each year.) IMPORTANT: Student Visa applicants should note that documents and processes used to obtain a CAS from HEE, versus those required by the Home Office are two entirely different and separate processes. For example, whilst a CAS may be issued without a copy of the medical degree certificate, students will not be able to submit their Student Visa application to the Home Office without proof of their medical degree (transcript or certificate). For further details on evidence required by the Home Office click here.

What happens if a doctor provides invalid documents; misses HEE CAS deadline date and/or is placed on the national Foundation Programme reserve list?

As per the Student Visa process outlines (Appendix 1) HEE are unable to issue a CAS if:

• invalid documents have been provided/uploaded.

• details are inaccurate or incomplete.

• the deadline has been missed; and/or

• the doctor has been placed onto the national Foundation Programme reserve list*.

These doctors should not expect to receive a CAS on the annual May issue date.

These doctors will need to wait until after the May issue date has past, and then update their details/documents, followed by an email to the HEE Overseas Sposnrosrship team requesting a CAS.

Can a CAS be used more than once?

No. A CAS cannot be used more than once. If an application is refused by the Home Office, a new CAS number will be required.

Can a doctor start the Foundation Programme whilst awaiting the outcome of their visa application?

As per extract below from the Home Office Policy Guidance, you can start your Foundation programme as long as the following conditions are met, and you have made your new application before your start date:

When a student changes to a course with a different sponsor (irrespective of whether they have completed their previous course), they must apply again under the Student or Child Student routes, with a CAS from their new Student sponsor.

They must not start their new course until we have approved their new application unless:

a. the new sponsor has Student sponsor status; and

b. the new sponsor has assigned them a CAS; and

c. they applied to us before starting their course; and

d. they applied to us before their existing permission to stay expired.

You do this at your own risk, as it is possible that your application will be refused, and you may not be able to go back to your old course.

Student Sponsor Guidance

Can a doctor work less than full time whilst sponsored under Student Visa?

No. As HEE is not a Higher Education Institute (HEI) HEE doctors must work full-time on the Foundation Programme; this is a condition as set out by the Home Office.

What level of qualification is the Foundation Programme?

The two-year recognised postgraduate Foundation Programme is course level ‘RQF Level 7’.

For completing the Home Office Student Visa application form, when asked “What is the level of qualification you will be awarded when you successfully complete your course?”, the Home Office confirm that you should select ‘postgraduate doctor /dentist’ as the appropriate award descriptor.

Do I need to meet the Academic progression rules?

As you are doing a recognised Foundation Programme, you are exempt from meeting the Academic Progression rules.

Do I require an ATAS certificate to apply for a Student Visa?

No. The Home Office confirmed that a doctor completing the two-year recognised postgraduate Foundation Programme would not be required to provide an ATAS certificate.

Making an Application to the Home Office

Am I required to meet the Financial requirements under the Student visa category?

For Student permission applications made in the UK from 5 October 2020, you will be exempt from meeting the financial requirements if you have been living in the UK for 12 months or more with permission at the time of your application.

Similarly, if you apply from either inside or outside the UK under the Student route as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer or as a doctor or dentist in training on a recognised foundation programme, you also will be exempt from meeting the financial requirement. Please refer to paragraph 12 of Appendix ST of the Immigration Rules for further details.

How should I answer the question on my Home Office application “What is the level of qualification you will be awarded when you successfully complete your course”?

For the purpose of completing the Home Office Student Visa application form, when asked “What is the level of qualification you will be awarded when you successfully complete your course?”, the Home Office confirm that you should select ‘postgraduate doctor /dentist’ as the appropriate award descriptor.

Do I need to provide my medical degree certificate?

Please note that documents and processes used to obtain a CAS from HEE versus those required by the Home Office are two entirely different and separate processes.

Whilst a CAS may be issued without a copy of the medical degree certificate, students will not be able to submit their Student Visa application to the Home Office without proof of their medical degree (transcript or certificate).

Please refer to the Home Office website for further details on evidence required by the Home Office.

When should a doctor apply to the Home Office for a new Student Visa to study the Foundation Programme?

It is recommended that you apply for your new visa as soon as you receive the CAS (which is valid for six months). Without a CAS number, you cannot apply to UK Visas and Immigration for your visa.

IMPORTANT: before using your CAS and applying to the Home Office, you should ensure that you meet all of the UKVI requirements. Please refer to the UK Visas and Immigration for guidance and application requirements.

Where can doctors find the Home Office Student Visa application form?

The application form can be completed online from the Home Office website. HEE advises that doctors read the form and accompanying UKVI guidance & HEE information very carefully. If the required information and documentation is not submitted, or if information is inconsistent with sponsor records, the application will be refused.

Can HEE help doctors complete the UKVI Student Visa application form?

HEE are not immigration experts and are unable to provide any guidance or help with completing the Home Office visa application form. Doctors should directly contact the UKVI for advice.

What is HEE’s sponsor rating?

Rating: Student Sponsor status (Premium)

What is HEEs sponsor licence number?

HEE sponsor licence number: 8RV47CNM3

What is HEEs sponsor licence address?

HEE’s sponsor licence address is:

Health Education England (HEE)

St Chads Court

213 Hagley Road

Edgbaston

Birmingham

B16 9RG

Please note that your CAS will not confirm the Sponsor’s address as HEE input your Foundation School address on the CAS which is known as your “Main Location of Study” for the purposes of your Student visa application form. Therefore, please ensure you put the Sponsor address as above when asked for your Sponsor address in the Visa Application form.

Does the doctor require a letter from the foundation school/postgraduate dean as well as a CAS/sponsor letter when submitting the application?

No. The Home Office has agreed that the CAS is sufficient proof that you have been accepted onto a recognised Foundation Programme.

After Making an Application to the Home Office

What happens if the Home Office rejects a Student Visa application?

If a Student Visa application is rejected, the doctor must inform HEE immediately. This will ensure that you comply with the Terms and Conditions of your sponsorship and help HEE carry out their sponsor duties.

If the doctor wishes to appeal, this should be made known to HEE to ensure that the CAS is not withdrawn. Alternatively, if the doctor wishes to make a second application/reapply, the doctor will require a new CAS. This should be requested at the time of notifying of the application refusal. Please note HEE will ask for confirmation of the new evidence before issuing a CAS number to the doctor.

What are the next steps once the Home Office approves/issues a Student Visa?

The first thing you should do is update your online Portal account by uploading a copy of the new Student Visa (BRP) and under the ‘visa details’ section and ‘adding HEE visa’.

What is a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)?

A biometric card is the visa as issued in the UK. It is proof of a doctor’s right to remain in the UK and has replaced the passport stamp for all those doctors who applied in the UK. Doctors will receive a BRP once the Home Office approves the visa application. If a doctor applies for their visa outside of the UK, they will not be issued with a biometric card; instead, they will receive an updated Entry Clearance Stamp in their passport to enter the UK. Once you are in the UK you will need to collect your BRP from the nearest post office as instructed by the Home Office. It is important that every doctor provides a copy of the BRP/entry clearance stamp to HEE as soon as it is issued.

What do I need to do if my Biometric Residence Permit card (BRP) has not arrived?

You can report online that your biometric residence permit (BRP) has not arrived if:

• you’ve applied from inside the UK

• your ‘decision letter’ from the Home Office saying that you can remain in the UK arrived more than 10 days ago

You’ll need the following information to report a missing BRP:

• your full name, date of birth and nationality

• an email or postal address

• your decision letter

You can report it using this link.

Why does the biometric card state ‘Work 20 hours max in term time’ if I am working full-time on the Foundation programme?

Whilst doctors undertaking the Foundation Programme are in full-time employment (40 hours per week) during the course of the training, for Student Visa purposes, the Foundation Programme itself is the course of study. Foundation Programme doctors and employers can be assured that the wording on the biometric residence permit does not prevent a Student Visa migrant from undertaking the Foundation Programme on a full-time basis.

Can I work additional hours on my Student Visa other than as part of the Foundation Programme?

No. As HEE is not a higher education provider, your Student visa only allows you to work on the Foundation Programme.

While Sponsored with HEE

Are Student Visa doctors eligible to apply for an Inter-Foundation School Transfer (IFST) or apply to another foundation school to continue their foundation training?

Sponsorship does not affect a doctor’s eligibility to apply for an IFST/ or choosing to continue the second year of a recognised FP (not as a locum or fixed term appointment) at a different foundation school. It is however vital that HEE is notified of any intention to change school, prior to withdrawing/ accepting another programme as if a doctor resigns from post without prior notification and agreement of the receiving school, HEE sponsorship will be withdrawn. It is vital that HEE are notified of any proposed change so that advice can be issued on a case-by-case basis. Please email StudentSponsorship@hee.nhs.uk for further information.

Can a doctor on a Student Visa take maternity leave, a break in training, or Time Out of the Foundation Programme (TOFP)?

Sponsorship is assigned for the sole purpose of completing the two years Foundation Programme. Unless a break in training is as a result of a statutory absences (e.g., maternity leave or statutory long-term sickness); doctors cannot retain sponsorship whilst on a ‘career break’ or undertaking ‘Time Out of the Foundation Programme’. For more information about ‘Time Out of the Foundation Programme’, please refer to our Forms and Guidance page.

What is the sponsorship status for doctors on maternity leave/statutory sickness?

A period of maternity or statutory sickness is classed as an authorised absence as long as the doctor remains employed and is monitored by the employer and foundation school respectively. Notification of the change in circumstance must be reported to HEE; however, the Student Visa will remain valid for the period of authorised absence for statutory reasons.

Doctors who take maternity leave or statutory sickness will need to apply for an extension to their visa, which will only be granted for a maximum of one additional year.

Therefore, in order to be granted an extension, doctors must be in a position to complete the Foundation Programme within the maximum three-year period.

Are there any on-going responsibilities of the doctor, foundation school and/or employer?

Yes. all members have key responsibilities to uphold in managing the Student Visa doctors and process. The responsibilities include the following:

• the foundation doctor must adhere to HEE terms of sponsorship and the conditions of the Home Office rules;

• the employers must continue to meet employment legislation and utilise a robust reporting processes to share Student Visa information with the foundation school;

• the foundation school must have systems in place to meet the monitoring requirements and report Student Visa information to HEE via the activity reports forms.

Who should be notified of a foundation doctor’s change of home/postal address?

If you move address during the Foundation Programme, you must first update your details in the ‘personal details’ section of your online Student Visa account.

You will also need to update your address details currently held by the Home Office. Click here to access the link.

What information/activity should be reported to HEE?

Both the sponsored doctors and the Foundation School MUST contact HEE. Both you and your Foundation School are responsible for reporting immediately (within seven working days of the event occurring) any of the following activity/changes:

• You fail your Final examinations

• Your new Student Visa application is rejected

• Your Foundation Programme start date is delayed

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• You did not enrol or attend work on your first day as expected

• Your Foundation Programme place is withdrawn, e.g., through dismissal

• You withdraw or resign from the Foundation Programme earlier than expected

• You complete the Foundation Programme earlier than expected

• You change your sponsorship or immigration category

• You require extended or remedial training which will change the duration of your Foundation Programme

• You are deferring or taking leave from the Foundation Programme due to maternity leave or statutory sickness

• You intend to transfer to another Foundation School (this will not affect your visa status as long as the Foundation School to which you are transferring offers a recognised Foundation Programme, you are not transferring to a Service or Locum post and there will be no break in Foundation Programme training. HEE must know your whereabouts at all times whilst acting as your sponsor, as agreed with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

• You take without permission more than 10 consecutive days leave or you miss more than ten expected contacts (e.g. teaching sessions or scheduled meetings with tutors in relation to your Foundation Programme. (If you miss an expected contact due to covering service delivery needs, it will not be counted as a missed contact. Foundation Schools should use HEE’s Activity Report Forms to record this information and send it to the Student Visa team (HEE).

• You change your name or do anything which you think might out you in breach of your visa or sponsorship conditions.

How do doctors, foundation schools and employers report information/activity to HEE?

If there is anything relating to your sponsorship about which you think HEE should be made aware, you must email the Student Visa team at: StudentSponsorship@hee.nhs.uk with a copy to your Foundation School.

If your employers have any concerns about your conduct or progress on the Foundation Programme, they will normally contact your Foundation School who will send an Activity Report Form to HEE.

Will a Student Visa sponsored doctor’s visa be automatically revoked if the terms and conditions are breached and/or activity is reported to HEE?

No, HEE will initially liaise with the foundation school to discuss the case. HEE is required to report any relevant activity to the UK Visas & Immigration Office (UKVI).

It is then for the UKVI to update their records; consider if they investigate; and/or immediately revoke sponsorship.

How will HEE use and manage Student Visa information/activity?

HEE will use information provided within the Student Visa account to carry out auditory and quality checks in order to comply with their sponsorship duties. This information is also required when HEE are subject to unannounced audit visits conducted by the Home Office.

As part of the on-going quality audits/checks, foundation schools can expect to receive a Student Visa status reports every quarterly to show the sponsorship status of the doctors in their area. This information will highlight those doctors who are currently sponsored, those whose sponsorship has expired and (if any), those doctors who have not provided documents/updated details and are subsequently at risk of having sponsorship revoked.

Does HEE have the authority to withdraw sponsorship?

Yes. HEE sets out clear ‘Terms and conditions of sponsorship’ that must be followed and adhered to by all foundation doctors for the duration of sponsorship. An example of when sponsorship may be withdrawn is if a doctor fails to provide a copy of a required document etc. It is necessary to have these terms in place to provide clear information of what is expected from the doctors and to ensure that HEE are meeting their legal sponsor duties as set by the Home Office. In turn, if an employer or foundation school is unable to meet their Student Visa responsibilities, HEE may be forced to withdraw sponsorship for all trainees at their site/school.

What if I need an extension to my new Student Visa?

Foundation doctors may need an extension to their visa if they require additional training time due to sickness, maternity or remedial training. This activity would have been reported to HEE by the doctor and the employer/school at the time of the change occurring.

Near the end of the doctor’s current visa expiring (we recommend approximately 3 months), the doctor should ensure that their Student Visa account documents and details are up-to-date and request a new CAS from HEE via email: StudentSponsorship@hee.nhs.uk

HEE will then contact and the foundation school to provide details of the additional training time required (e.g. to include the new expected end date of study and to confirm that training continues as fulltime on the recognised Foundation Programme) placement).

Once confirmation is received, a new CAS will be issued using a start date one day after the current visa expiring. Once a new CAS is issued, the doctor should complete the Home Office extension application form which can be found using this link along with information on the relevant fees.

Contact Details

How do I contact HEE?

You can contact the HEE Overseas Sponsorship Team via email at: StudentSponsorship@hee.nhs.uk. The team will endeavour to respond within 5 working days. Due to the high volume of queries they receive it is not possible to provide face-to-face or telephone service.

How do I contact the Home Office?

The Home Office can be contacted via the Home Office website.

More information on Right to Work and Visas can be found on our Right to Work/Visas page.