Medical training initiative (MTI)

Visas – Information from UKVI

On Tuesday 24 March, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) published guidance on GOV.UK on immigration provisions for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). These changes are now in effect.

A summary of the changes are:

Visa extensions

  • On 31 March 2020 the Home Office announced that all doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year.
  • This extension to NHS visas will be automatic, there will be no fee attached and it will be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge. The UKVI will be writing to all institutions that employ NHS workers from overseas and asking them to provide the details of those whose leave will expire prior to 1 October 2020.
  • The visa extensions will be granted on identical leave conditions as the original conditions that are about to expire for each worker. Should an applicant wish to change route or job role, a new application would be required.
  • No individual who is in the UK legally, but whose visa is due to, or has already expired, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future.
  • A visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if an individual cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19). Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email to advise of their situation. Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email
  • The Coronavirus Immigration Team will update relevant details on UKVI databases. Individuals will be advised that UKVI have noted their details; they will not be subject to enforcement action; and this period will not be held against them in future applications.
  • This requirement to contact Coronavirus Immigration Team applies to individuals of any nationality whose leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 30 May 2020.

Certificates of Sponsorship

  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have stated that, due to the current difficulties with travel for those doctors who have obtained their visas but are unable to travel due to restrictions, no new Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) will be required.
  • Under these exceptional circumstances they will consider the current CoS to be valid beyond its expiration date. Each case will be handled individually by UKVI and affected individuals should contact the NHS team inbox ( with details of their situation, role and employer to get advice on the best course of action depending upon their particular circumstances.

Residence Permits

  • UKVI will approach all Trusts and ask for Visa and BRP information that they will then automatically update. This will also apply to dependent’s Visas and BRP’s.

Switching to a long-term UK visa

  • During these unique circumstances individuals will be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May. This includes applications where they would usually need to apply for a visa from their home country.
  • They will need to meet the requirements of the route they are switching into and pay the UK application fee.
  • Those whose leave expires between 24 January and 31 May 2020, including those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 March 2020, are eligible to apply .
  • They can apply online.

Tier 2 and 5 sponsors - Home working

  • We are aware that many workers sponsored under the Tiers 2 and 5 immigration routes are now working from home rather than their normal workplace due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Tiers 2 and 5 sponsors are normally required to notify us of such changes of circumstances. However, due to the current exceptional situation, we will not require sponsors to do so if working from home is directly related to the pandemic. Other changes must still be reported as usual.

UKVI has set up a dedicated email account for customers with immigration queries related to Coronavirus, including questions about urgent, compelling, compassionate cases. Customers can contact:

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) Medical Training Initiative (MTI) is designed to enable a small number of International Psychiatry Graduates to enter the UK to experience training in the NHS for up to two years, before returning to their home country.

Under the scheme vacant CT3 posts are made available for overseas doctors who meet the eligibility criteria. NHS Trusts that would like to employ an MTI International Fellow can find out more in the "How do NHS Trusts apply?" section below. 

The paid CT3 posts are approved by Deaneries/LETB as suitable for training. The RCPsych provides GMC Sponsorship and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) acts as the UK Sponsor to enable participants to apply for a Tier 5 visa with the UK Borders Agency.

Doctors applying to the MTI scheme must:

  • hold a primary medical qualification recognised by the UK General Medical Council from an internationally accepted medical institution. This qualification must be verified by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).  As certificates produced by the ECFMG are only valid for 60 days candidates are not required to submit an EPIC certificate from the ECFMG at the time of application. Successful applicants will be required to submit an EPIC certificate to the GMC at the time they begin the process of joining the medical register.
  • have completed an acceptable internship (or equivalent) of not less than 12 months following undergraduate training.
  • have at least three years’ experience working in Psychiatry in the last five years (including the 12 months leading up to GMC registration).
  • have completed the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Test and achieved a minimum overall score of 7.5 (and at least 7.0 in each category) OR have achieved a grade B or over in each testing area of the medical version of the Occupational English Test (OET). The test must have been taken in the last two years.
  • be resident overseas at time of application and have no rights of residence in the UK/EU/EEA/Switzerland.
  • have obtained, or be working towards, a postgraduate qualification in psychiatry.
  • have not previously made any unsuccessful attempts to register with the GMC (e.g. PLAB test) or exceeded the GMC’s limit on unsuccessful attempts at the PLAB test (Doctors who have failed - and not subsequently passed - either part 1 or part 2 of the PLAB test or who have previously been turned down for sponsorship by an approved sponsor are not generally considered as suitable candidates for sponsorship. If unsure, please see GMC website for clarification)

Costs for doctors

We are no longer accepting applications from doctors for the 2020 RCPsych MTI scheme - the deadline for receiving applications was 2 February 2020.

This diagram illustrates the application process:


Trusts that would like to employ an RCPsych MTI International Fellow from August 2020 should read the RCPsych MTI Guidance for Trusts and submit a RCPsych MTI Trust Submission Form to by 27 March 2020.

This year the RCPsych has had the highest number of MTI applications since it joined the Scheme. If your Trust is still looking to fill a CT3 post, we’re currently accepting submissions

If you have any questions, please email

For each doctor that is successfully matched with a post, the Trust will be required to pay an administrative fee of £750 to the RCPsych.

Get in contact to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry