Introduction

Imperial College London, coordinated by the Clinical Academic Training Office (CATO), is able to provide General Medical Council (GMC) sponsorship (approval) for well-qualified and highly recommended international medical doctors, who wish to undertake part of their research in the UK. It is only intended for those who will return to their home country to practice the skills they have gained, at the end of the sponsored period. 

CATO is not able to provide work permits or visa assistance for candidates. This scheme provides GMC sponsorship (approval) only. Candidates must make their own visa arrangements, with assistance from their supervisor and the associated Imperial College department they will undertake research and clinical time in.   As part of the Imperial scheme candidates will also need to make a parallel application directly to the GMC (see further guidance below).

Imperial College London will only consider sponsoring overseas doctors who already meet the following criteria:

    • Candidate has already been offered a suitable post by a senior member of Imperial College London academic staff (candidates must initiate and make direct contact with a supervisor.  CATO will not provide assistance in this respect)
    • Confirmation that the candidate intends to carry out clinical research at an affiliated Imperial College London Hospital and associated Imperial College department
    • Confirmation that the candidate has been awarded a scholarship, official funding or a salary, (the scheme does not encompass financial support for candidates). 
    • Confirmation that the candidate’s medical qualifications have been authenticated by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) (this is a new requirement effective from 11 June 2018)
    • Important:   Candidates should continue to practice clinically right up until they make an application for registration with the GMC.

 

Candidates are advised to read the GMC Sponsorship Scheme Regulations 2018 before applying.

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To start the Imperial College London GMC Sponsorship application process

‌To start the Imperial College London GMC Sponsorship application process

Verification of Qualifications:  Effective from 11 June 2018 onwards, candidates will need to have their medical qualifications verified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). This requirement applies to the majority of doctors who have qualified outside of the UK and the European Economic Area (EEA).  ECFMG will confirm that the candidate’s qualifications are authentic, by checking them directly with the candidate’s medical school and sharing the outcome of their findings with the GMC.

The ECFMG verification process can take some time, applicants are advised to allow up to 90 days for this.  There is a cost to the candidate, payable to ECFMG; see website link. Candidates may choose to go through the ECFMG authentication process first, or may prefer to wait until they have a firm offer of sponsorship from an Imperial College London supervisor first, but either way candidates must allow and plan sufficient time for the ECFMG process ahead of their anticipated start time in the sponsored post.

Imperial College London sponsorship scheme:  To begin the sponsorship application process with Imperial College London candidates must initiate and make direct contact with a research supervisor who is a senior member of academic staff at Imperial College London.

  • Before commencing an application for GMC sponsorship at Imperial College London, the Supervisor and the candidate should have a structured interview together by telephone, Skype or in person. The supervisor should conduct the interview with the candidate, as outlined in the regulations. Structured interview questions are available from CATO if required.  If interviewed successfully, and the candidate is offered a suitable position at Imperial College London, the Supervisor can commence the application process.
  • If the candidate is suitable and the supervisor is able to offer candidate a suitable post the supervisor should complete the Supervisor form: International Sponsorship Scheme Supervisor form .  The Candidate should also complete the Initial International Sponsorship form: Initial International Sponsorship Scheme FORM
  • Both completed forms (supervisor and sponsorship) should be sent by the Supervisor to (cato@imperial.ac.uk) for review. Once the forms have been reviewed and deemed suitable, instructions will be provided by CATO to progress the application.  Both supervisor and candidate will need to provide a number of supporting documents as part of the process. Please refer to the checklist for the full list of requirements: CATO GMC Sponsorship Paperwork Checklist (Applicant)

General Medical Council (GMC):  In addition to ECFMG and the application process at Imperial College London, candidates must also complete the specified application and registration process for International Medical Graduates at the GMCCandidates can choose when to start the GMC process – but it cannot be fully completed until ECFMG and Imperial College London requirements have been fulfilled.   

Important:   Candidates should continue to practice clinically right up until they make an application for registration with the GMC.

To progress the Imperial College London sponsorship process

To progress the Imperial College London sponsorship process

After the successful interview and submitting initial forms to the CATO Team candidates will need to provide the following information and documentation in support of their application to Imperial College London, refer to the checklist for full details. 

Candidates must provide:

  • Evidence of Primary Medical Qualification (with official translation)
  • Evidence of post-qualification training in general clinical practice and in the specialty relevant to the research programme
  • ECFMG verification of medical qualifications
  • Proof of Identity (Passport or similar photo ID as accepted by GMC)
  • Evidence of English Language proficiency to meet standards set out in GMC guidance. The candidate will either need to take the IELTS Test OR the Occupational English Test (OET) and achieve the required standards.  See further information at the bottom of the section*.
  • A certificate(s) of Good Standing
  • A statement of the research programme, including a description of the clinical commitment required
  • Evidence of financial support to ensure completion of the programme
  • Names (and email and postal addresses) of 2 referees who will provide a confidential reference on request (Provision of the full names and contact details of two overseas Consultants with whom the candidate has worked within the last twelve months and the last two years to provide structured references).
  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • A copy of GMC Application form and number once the application has been initiated

Supervisors must provide:

  • Confirmation that an offer has been made at an affiliated Imperial College London hospital in association with and Imperial College department in an approved practice setting (equivalent to StR 1 level or above, minimum of 6 months, maximum 2 years)
  • A statement of the assessment process for the applicant (interview)
  • Details of the candidate’s approach. E.g. was it  a personal approach by the applicant or a response to an existing Fellowship scheme (if the latter, how was the Fellowship scheme advertised)
  • Details of the method of assessment carried out in person, e.g. was it by telephone or by e-mail
  • An outline of the research programme and team into which the IMG will be placed
  • A description of any information which the Supervisor may have about the IMG’s university and/or hospitals where the degree and/or specialist training was undertaken, either from direct experience, collaborative arrangements with colleagues at the institution(s), or other clinical fellows from the institution(s)
  • A copy of the interview notes
  • A copy of the job description
  • A completed ‘supervisor’ form (available by email: cato@imperial.ac.uk )
  • Evidence of agreement from the relevant local NHS Trust to provide an appropriate honorary clinical contract

When all of the documents including references are received, the CATO Team will formally consider the application and decide whether sponsorship is granted. All documents and requirements will need to meet the eligibility criteria for the approval to be granted.

If sponsorship is granted, the CATO Team will send a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for GMC registration to the candidate confirming that sponsorship is agreed for the particular post, and copied to the supervising consultant.  The GMC will then review the case and make a decision about the candidate’s eligibility.  The final decision about a candidate’s eligibility rests with the GMC.

*English Language Proficiency*

Candidates will need to demonstrate that they can meet English Language standards set out in GMC guidance.  This can be done by taking the IELTS or OET Tests.

For the IELTS Test , Test candidates must:

  • get a score of at least 7.0 in each testing area (speaking, listening, reading and writing), and an overall score of 7.5.
  • get these scores in the same test
  • take the academic version of the test
  • supply the original stamp and test report form (TRF) number

For the OET Test , in order for the GMC to accept your OET certificate, it must show

  • that you took the medicine version of the test
  • that you got a grade of at least 'B' in each testing area (speaking, listening, reading and writing)
  • that you got those grades in the same test
  • your OET candidate number
  • that you obtained the grades in your most recent sitting of the test

Timeframes and charges

Timeframes and charges

  • Applications should be made as far in advance of the expected start date for the post as possible (minimum 6 months recommended). The timeframe for processing applications varies depending on the complexity of each case. Applications are processed upon receipt of all requested documentation, and all correspondence will be dealt with as quickly as possible.  
  • For any information or queries about the International Sponsorship Scheme, please contact cato@imperial.ac.uk
  • There is a fee of £300 for the administration of the Imperial College London sponsorship scheme, this is usually payable after the CATO Team has received the Initial International Sponsorship form and deems the candidate initially suitable. 
  • There are additional charges relating to the ECFMG verification of qualifications and for taking IELTS/OET tests that candidates will need to be able to fund.