We recommend that all occupational therapists wanting to work in the United Kingdom (UK) make themselves fully aware of the national policies and legislation in each of the Four UK Countries - Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England. The best way to do this is initially to become an overseas member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT). On arrival in the UK you can become a RCOT professional member and take advantage of local networking and study events and other benefits which will help you settle into your new professional community.
To practise in the UK you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the regulatory body. 'Occupational therapist' is a legally protected title which may only be used by registered occupational therapists. In order to get registered, applicants must fulfil the HCPC criteria which includes professional indemnity insurance and CPD requirements. Membership of RCOT provides this insurance as part of the RCOT membership benefits.
Full information on the process for international applicants can be found on the HCPC website.
For further information contact:
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
184 Kennington Park Road
London SE11 4BU
Tel: +44 (0) 845 300 4472/+44 (0) 20 7582 5460
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7840 9801
Application forms and guidance notes can be downloaded from the HCPC website. Qualifications and English proficiency are taken into account. If you are from a European Economic Area (EEA) or a Swiss national applicant, specific information is also available for you. There is a processing fee.
Information on immigration and working in the UK
UK Border Agency
40 Wellesley Road
Surrey CR9 2BY
Tel: +44 (0) 870 606 7766 or www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration
A points based system has been introduced for 'skilled workers'. Occupational therapists are no longer on the Home Office Shortage Occupations List (HOSOL) for fast tracking. Conditions for EEA citizens are different.
Employment opportunities for occupational therapists
Employment opportunities for occupational therapists in the UK are more limited than they have been in past years due to service restructuring and financial pressures, particularly in the National Health Service. However there are a large number of vacancies in the London area. It may therefore take some time to find a suitable position. The introduction of a points based system for non EEA or Swiss nationals to enter the UK to work has also made it more difficult for occupational therapists to come to the UK from outside Europe.
Finding a job
Vacancy listings are available to RCOT members online and in OTnews. Work is available in health, social care and community settings as well as in the independent sector, education, housing etc. Agencies may also be helpful for short term work.
Trusts offer the potential for Tier 2 sponsorship, however the only way they can sponsor for Tier 2 is if they first satisfy the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), which essentially says they have posted the job for at least 28 days and have not found a suitable European candidate. Only then can they offer sponsorship for Tier 2. There are limitations placed on those employed under Tier 2. For further information, please visit the UK government website.
International students studying in the UK
Tier 4 Student Visa
The following information is provided to help international occupational therapy students who are studying in the UK.
If you hold a Tier 4 student visa and will have a (masters) degree from a recognised UK university, you are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website offers guidance to international students and has a small section on how some employers might not understand the exemptions to the RLMT. When you apply for an occupational therapist post in the UK, you should make your exempt status extremely clear on all application materials and by phoning the Trusts to ensure your application is not passed by due to a misunderstanding of eligibility. For further information, please visit the UKCISA website.