International sponsorship scheme (ISS)


Before beginning an ISS application, applicants and UK employers must read the Eligibility Criteria section, to ensure that the applicant can meet the minimum eligibility requirements for the ISS, for GMC registration and for the Tier 5 visa.


All doctors practising in the UK must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC).  The usual route to registration for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) is success in the GMC’s PLAB test

Overseas clinical oncologists (radiation oncologists) or clinical oncology (radiation oncology) trainees who wish to undertake a period of specialist training in the UK may be sponsored for registration by the RCR, as an alternative to taking the PLAB test, under the International Sponsorship Scheme (ISS).  Sponsorship encompasses both GMC registration and an application for a government authorised exchange visa under Tier 5 of the Points Based System Tier 5 Overview.   For those who already have GMC registration, sponsorship for the Tier 5 visa only for the purposes of the ISS may be available upon submission of the forms and information.

Potential applicants and employers should note that sponsorship is exceptional and that the PLAB test remains the usual route through which IMGs may obtain GMC registration.

The overseas applicant must have been offered a post in the UK before the sponsorship process starts. The RCR cannot find a post for an applicant. Links which may be useful when considering whether to train in the UK and looking for a training post can be seen on our website Working in the UK .


The ISS operates as part of the Medical Training Initiative (MTI) which is designed to enable a small number of IMGs to enter the UK and undertake training for up to two years, before returning to their home country. Sponsorship for longer than two years is not available.

The scheme makes use of spare training capacity within the NHS. Posts offered under this scheme must be approved by the Local Education and Training Board (LETB)/deanery as neither disadvantaging UK or EEA trainees nor adversely affecting existing trainees, and must contain a sufficient training and educational content to benefit the overseas applicant. 

To start the process

The UK supervising consultant should complete the ISS UK consultant form and return this to the RCR at, along with confirmation of LETB/deanery approval of the post, the job description and timetable and the applicant’s CV.

The overseas trainee should complete and return the application form on our website with the required documents to the RCR at Applicants and potential employers must read the Eligibility Criteria and other sections on our website for full information about the ISS.

Please see the application process for the relevant forms.