VAT15 - Business visitor: Doctors coming for PLAB test
This is internal guidance for use by entry clearance (visa) staff on the handling of visa applications made outside the UK for visit and transit visas. It is a live document under constant review and is for information only. Doctors sitting the PLAB test are included in the definition of business visitor. Relevant provisions for purposes of sitting PLAB test remain in Immigration Rules paragraphs 75A to 75F. Note: this means that existing appeal rights and fees are retained in this category.
On this page
- VAT15.1 What is the PLAB test?
- VAT15.2 PLAB Process
- VAT15.3 Requirements for those coming to take the PLAB
- VAT15.4 Documents required
- VAT15.5 Is entry clearance mandatory?
- VAT15.6 Can they switch into employment after taking the test?
- VAT15.7 Entry clearance endorsement
- VAT15.8 Examples of refusal wordings
- VAT15.9 Does this category attract full rights of appeal?
VAT15.1 What is the PLAB test?
Any doctor who wishes to practice medicine in the UK must register with the General Medical Council (GMC). Doctors who qualify overseas and wish to register must normally pass the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) to demonstrate their knowledge of English and their medical expertise.
Note: Doctors applying to take any other test or examination, such as those required to enter one of the Royal Colleges, will also be treated as General Visitors and must demonstrate that they meet all the requirements of the General Visitor Rules. This means that they should not be granted more than six months of leave as a General Visitor and they will be subject to the normal restrictions on General Visitors switching into other categories of leave.
VAT15.2 PLAB Process
(Only doctors are required to undertake the PLAB test, not dentists).
Doctors who qualified overseas and hold a qualification which is not recognised by the UK must pass the PLAB test in order to register with the GMC. Before coming to the UK they must pass a pre-assessment test the 'International English Language Testing System' (IELTS) assessment test.
(i) The IELTS is designed to ascertain whether the doctor has a reasonable command of the English language in order to sit The PLAB test.
(ii) The IELTS tests are held both overseas in various countries and in the United Kingdom.
(iii) If the doctor passes the different stages of the test he will be allowed to sit the PLAB test in the United Kingdom.
(iv) Doctors are required to take the PLAB test to demonstrate their knowledge of medical English and their medical skills and knowledge.
(v) The PLAB test is divided into two separate assessments, Part 1 and Part 2.
(vi) The GMC stipulates that doctors must pass Part 1 before they can be admitted to Part 2 of the test.
(vii) Where a candidate severely fails Part 1, the GMC will not allow him to re-sit Part 1 until a period of at least four months has elapsed from the date of the failed test.
VAT15.3 Requirements for those coming to take the PLAB
Entry clearance only mandatory for visa nationals seeking to enter the UK to take the PLAB test
Although all the requirements of paragraph 75a must be met, the main points on which the ECO needs to be satisfied are that the applicant:
- is a graduate from a bona fide medical school and intends to sit the PLAB Test; and
- can provide documentary proof of a confirmed test date or of his eligibility to apply to sit the test; and
- they will be able to maintain and accommodate himself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds; and
- they will not take employment during their leave under this category (as above, clinical attachments do not count as employment for these purposes).
VAT15.4 Documents required
A candidate who applies for leave to enter in the United Kingdom to sit the PLAB test should produce evidence from the GMC, which may take the form of:
- A GMC letter;
- Test admission card; or
VAT15.5 Is entry clearance mandatory?
Entry clearance is only mandatory for visa nationals.
VAT15.6 Can they switch into employment after taking the test?
Doctors who pass the PLAB test are not permitted to switch into any skilled employment route within the points-based system.
Those Doctors in the UK to take the PLAB test are not permitted to switch into the category for Postgraduate doctors, dentists and trainee practitioners (paragraph 75A of the Immigration Rules).
Doctors who come to the UK to take the PLAB test may undertake periods of clinical attachment during their leave. There is no need to apply separately to undertake a clinical attachment, unless the period of the clinical attachment goes on beyond the expiry of the doctor's leave in the UK to take the PLAB test.
VAT15.7 Entry clearance endorsement
Entry clearance should be endorsed:
C: PLAB test. LTE 6 months. Code 3
If the requirements of paragraph 75D are met, the applicant should normally be granted six months leave at a time up to a maximum of 18 months.
VAT15.8 Examples of refusal wordings
Wording for refusals: Section 1-5 (can be downloaded under 'Related documents' on the right of this page).
VAT15.9 Does this category attract full rights of appeal?
No, this category only attracts limited appeal rights.