02/07/2012 - RPS sponsorship of overseas pharmacy graduates approved
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is launching an RPS Pharmacy Professional Sponsorship Scheme for overseas pharmacy students. This new scheme, funded by all participating Schools of Pharmacy, will enable pharmacy graduates from GB schools of pharmacy to apply for professional sponsorship from the RPS in order to be able to apply for a Tier 5 visa and complete their pre-registration training in this country.
This scheme was developed in response to concerns expressed by our members, the Department of Health (DH), the Council of University Heads of Pharmacy Schools (CUHoPs) and the British Pharmaceutical Students Association (BPSA) about the difficulties current overseas (non EEA) pharmacy students were having in obtaining visas in order that they may complete pre-registration training. This is due to a recent closure of a post study work visa, Tier 1, and problems obtaining a Tier 2 visa. Most students undertaking a pre-registration placement in industry or community pharmacies are not able to meet the essential criteria for the Tier 2 visa, which is a minimum salary of £20,700 per year.
Ryan Hamilton, BPSA President said:
"A number of non-EEA students are concerned they will not be able to complete their training in Britain. It is fantastic news that the Tier 5 route has been approved by DH and UKBA, enabling the RPS to sponsor non-EEA preregistration pharmacists through their training year. The BPSA values international students and we will continue to work alongside the RPS to support students through the VISA application process."
Dr Catherine Duggan, RPS Director of Professional Development & Support said:
“We are delighted that we were able to work with the Department of Health and the Schools of Pharmacy to provide a solution to the difficult situation faced by overseas pharmacy students and employers of pre-registration pharmacists. This scheme, funded independently, will help to resolve the problem for the current cohorts of international students and will help them complete their training year.”
Current UKBA rules are clear that RPS professional sponsorship only applies for the pre-registration year. Following completion of their pre-registration year overseas pharmacy graduates will be required to return to their home country and they will not be able to remain in the UK and practice as a pharmacist unless they qualify for a visa via another route. The RPS Sponsorship scheme has been approved by DH and UKBA for four years with the understanding that the scheme will not support future cohorts of overseas students, as these students will be aware of the new UK Border Agency rules before deciding to study in the UK. Future immigration arrangements are decided by Government and overseas students intending to study and then work in the UK in future are advised to review the visa information available from UKBA and seek expert immigration advice if required.
Notes to editors:
 Please note that students undertaking their pre-registration training in the NHS will meet the minimum salary criteria and be able to apply for a visa under the Tier 2 scheme.