Traveler in airport

Immigration guidance following the Government’s proposal to quicken the registration of overseas dentists to work in the UK

Dental Crisis & Proposed Government Action

Anyone who has tried to get an appointment with an NHS dentist in the last 12 months will be unsurprised to hear the dental surgeries simply do not seem to have the staff to meet the demands for dental care. The Financial Times reported this week that dental surgeries are now having to rely on recruiting practitioners from overseas to operate.

There has been widespread criticism of the UK’s dental regulator. This is because overseas dentists are currently facing a long, arduous process to practise in the UK. On 16 February 2024, the Government, in response, announced that they were commencing a consultation to seek views on giving the General Dental Council (GDC) powers and duties to provisionally register overseas-qualified dentists before they have finished their exams. The consultation is to close on 16 May 2024. This may indeed lead to increased NHS dental access in the future.

It is important employers are aware of their immigration options and obligations if they are considering recruiting overseas dentists.

Immigration Advice

For a dental practice to employ dentists who are not UK citizens, they will typically need to register as a sponsor with the Home Office. The exception to this is if they employ:

  1. An Irish citizen;
  2. An individual with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme; or
  3. An individual with Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.

There are a number of requirements that employers will need to satisfy in order to earn a sponsor licence. Getting the application process or sponsor obligations wrong can prove costly and prevent both the short and long term recruitment of overseas talent. Once a sponsor licence is obtained, the employer can issue an employee with a certificate of sponsorship. This is an electronic certificate required for an employee to make their skilled worker visa application. The employee and their proposed role will need to satisfy the skilled worker requirements in order for this to be possible.

Once the certificate is issued, the individual has three months to submit their skilled worker application. A skilled worker visa will allow an overseas dentist (providing they are a qualified individual) to come to the UK to work for an approved sponsor in an eligible role.

For further information and advice about issues relating to the above, please refer to our specialist immigration team. We provide comprehensive advice and support when it comes to applying for a sponsor licence and skilled worker visa and complying with the ongoing duties.