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Qualifying from abroad to work in the UK
The SQE has replaced the qualified lawyers transfer scheme (QLTS), serving foreign qualified lawyers who wish to requalify in the UK.
We've published guidance for foreign lawyers wishing to qualify in this jurisdiction.
With the introduction of the SQE, there are some key deadlines that foreign qualified lawyers should be aware of.
Exemption from the SQE
Qualified lawyers with practice rights are able to apply for exemption from the SQE on the basis of their prior qualifications or experience. Exemptions will only be granted from a whole component (or components) of the SQE.
When the SRA recognises a qualified lawyer’s professional qualification as equating to part or all of the SQE1 and SQE2 assessments, the qualified lawyer will not be required to sit the corresponding components of the SQE assessment(s). This is provided for by Regulation 3.2 of the Authorisation of Individuals Regulations.
Qualified overseas lawyers do not need to fulfil the qualifying work experience requirement or get sign-off on it.
Transitional arrangements and COVID-19
The SRA has recognised the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on candidates sitting the second part of the QLTS assessment, as it is only available in this jurisdiction. The period for those who have taken and passed the multiple-choice test (MCT) before 1 September 2021 to complete their qualifications and apply for admission has been extended to 31 August 2022 (inclusive).
Foreign qualified lawyers can choose to complete their qualifications and apply for admission either by sitting and passing the second part of the QLTS (the Objective Structured Clinical Examination –OSCE), or by sitting and passing SQE2.
Foreign qualified lawyers with exemptions
The above does not apply to those candidates who have been granted a full exemption from the whole MCT, who must have passed the OSCE and applied for admission by 31 August 2021 (inclusive), or sat and passed the July 2021 OSCE.
Those who sit and pass the July 2021 OSCE can apply for a waiver from the requirement to have applied for admission before 1 September 2021, so long as they have been admitted in another jurisdiction as a qualified lawyer before 1 September 2021. This waiver can be applied for until 31 December 2021.