‘Acceptable Overseas Registration Exam’ (AORE)

New AORE registration route (January 2021)

The GMC have created a new registration route for international graduates who have passed an ‘Acceptable Overseas Registration Exam’ (AORE). This route will be available alongside the existing routes to full registration with a licence to practise.

The GMC has a list of acceptable overseas registration examinations from the USA, Canada and Australia with which applicants can apply for full registration, providing they meet all the criteria.

For more information on the GMC’s AORE registration route, please click here

GMC Sponsorship for international medical doctors pursuing research at Imperial who are undertaking clinical work



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:

    • The applicant has already been offered a suitable post by a senior member of Imperial College London academic staff (applicants must initiate and make direct contact with a supervisor.  CATO will not provide assistance in this respect)
    • Confirmation that the applicant intends to carry out clinical research at an affiliated Imperial College London Hospital and associated Imperial College department
    • Confirmation that the applicant has been awarded a scholarship, official funding or a salary, (the scheme does not encompass financial support for candidates) 
    • Confirmation that the applicant’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: Applicants should continue to practice clinically in their home country right up until they make an application for registration with the GMC. Candidates should also be engaged in medical practice for three out of the last five years including the most recent twelve months. If applicants are already in the UK they must be able to explain how they are currently working clinically if they wish to apply.

Candidates are advised to read the GMC Process Regulations 2019* before applying.

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To start the Imperial College GMC 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 the 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: GMC Sponsorship Paperwork Checklist 2019*

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 GMC. Candidates can choose when to start the GMC process, and once started they will receive a GMC reference number - but the GMC process cannot be fully completed until ECFMG and our Imperial College London scheme requirements have been fulfilled.   

Information about submitting your GMC application

Once you've started your GMC application, you can save it and come back to it later if you need to. You have three months to complete your application. If you don't submit it in this time, you'll have to start a new one. Further information about the GMC process are here: I am ready to apply

You will need to start with a GMC online account.

• If you already have a GMC reference number and have never logged into your online account or don't have any login details, you can activate your GMC Online account.
• If you don't have a GMC reference number, then you need to set up an account.
For more advice on setting up an account, please contact the GMC directly

Important:   Applicants should continue to practice clinically in their home country right up until they make an application for registration with the GMC. Applicants should also be engaged in medical practice for three out of the last five years including the most recent twelve months. If applicants are already in the UK, they must be able to explain how they are currently working clinically if they wish to apply.

Identity Checks: Once applicants have submitted their documentation and qualifications to the GMC, the GMC will review an applicant’s application for a licence to practice. If an applicant’s application is accepted, applicants will have to attend a GMC identity check. Applicants will attend their identity check in person at the GMC’s offices.

Update from the GMC regarding Identity Checks Procedure

During the pandemic, the GMC suspended identity checks of overseas doctors joining the medical register. Please note - all doctors applying for registration on or after 25 April 2022 will be required to attend an identity check appointment before the GMC grant their registration.

What this means for Imperial College sponsorship applicants

When the GMC approves an application for registration, the applicant will receive an invitation to attend an identity check. Applicants will have six months to attend an identity check appointment at one of their offices. When the ID check is complete, the GMC will grant the registration.

Documents with an expiry date, such as certificates of sponsorship or certificates of good standing, are required to be in-date the point the GMC approves the application. They do not need to be in-date when the applicant attends the ID check appointment.

Applicants who submitted applications before 25 April, but whose application for registration was approved after 25 April are NOT required to attend an ID check at this time.

The GMC will update its web guidance ahead of 25 April so that applicants intending to apply after 25 April will be forewarned. Applicants who have been granted registration without an identity check during the pandemic will be asked to complete an identity check.


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

English Language Evidence: The only exception to the rule above is for doctors who have a passport AND a Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ) from a country where English is the first and native language. E.g. a doctor with a passport and a PMQ issued in South Africa

Completing your application, timeframes, charges and Induction

Completing your application, timeframes, charges and Induction

  • 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.

Induction Arrangements

  • Welcome to UK Practice (WtUKP) workshops: Applicants to the Imperial College London GMC Sponsorship scheme are strongly recommended to attend the GMC's free workshops delivered by experienced GMC staff, who are experts in GMC guidance. Places are limited and fill up quickly. Applicants are advised to book early at workshops for doctors.
  • Department/NHS Service induction: All candidates successfully approved through Imperial College London GMC Sponsorship scheme are expected to receive a comprehensive induction provided by the Imperial academic department or Trust clinical team that is hosting them. Candidates should speak to supervisors to ensure that this happens in the early stages of their time at Imperial
  • Imperial CATO Induction discussion: All candidates successfully approved through Imperial College London GMC Sponsorship scheme will also be required to attend an Induction interview with the Director of Clinical Academic Training in the early stages of their time at Imperial