The United Kingdom Government recognizes that medical graduates from overseas may wish to practice in the UK. These graduates must register with the GMC (General Medical Council) before they can practice medicine in the United Kingdom. In order to register with the GMC doctors must first pass the Professional and Linguistic Appraisals Board (PLAB) test which has 2 parts. Doctors who pass this test may be able to then apply to stay in the United Kingdom to undertake a period of clinical attachment.

Medical Practitioners taking the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) tests
This category was incorporated into the Immigration Rules on 15 March 2005, having previously operated as a concession outside the Rules.

Entry clearance in this category is only mandatory for visa nationals.

Before any doctor can practice medicine in the United Kingdom they must register with the General Medical Council (GMC). Doctors who qualify overseas must first pass an assessment test. This test is set by the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) and is designed to assess medical expertise and knowledge of English. The PLAB test has two parts – part one can be taken in the UK or abroad, but part two can only be taken in the UK. After passing a PLAB test, limited registration with the GMC is given.

To qualify for entry clearance to take the PLAB Test an applicant must:

  • be a graduate from a medical school who intends to take the PLAB Test in the UK;
  • provide documentary evidence of a confirmed test date or of their eligibility to take the PLAB Test;
  • meet the requirements of  immigration rules for entry as a visitor:
  • does not intend to take up employment in the United Kingdom;
  • does not intend to produce goods or provide services within the United Kingdom, including the selling of goods or services direct to members of the public;
  • does not intend to study at a maintained school; and
  • will maintain and accommodate himself and any dependants adequately out of resources available to him without recourse to public funds or taking employment; or will, with any dependants, be maintained and accommodated by relatives or friends; and
  • intend to leave the UK at the end of their leave granted under this paragraph unless they are successful at PLAB test, and intend to switch into one of the following categories:
  • as a postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • to undertake a period of clinical
  • As a work permit holder for employment in the United Kingdom as a Doctor of the Rules.

Candidates may be granted six months leave at a time to complete the PLAB Test, up to a maximum of 18 months in total. ECOs should note that candidates who are successful at the second part of the PLAB test can apply to switch to one of the above leave to remain categories. The ECO must be satisfied that the applicant will leave the UK if their application for leave to remain is unsuccessful.
Doctors who come to the UK to take the PLAB test may also undertake periods of clinical attachment during their leave. There is no need to apply separately for entry clearance 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.

To get PLAB testyou will have to satisfy further criteria other than the basic fundamentals set out by the United Kingdom Immigration Authorities. You will have to show verification of a test date or your eligibility to take the PLAB test.

This PLAB type will usually be granted for up to six months. Though, it may be feasible to get extensions of up to six months at a time with a maximum of 18 months in total. If successful in the PLAB test it may be possible to apply to stay in the UK as a postgraduate doctor or trainee general practitioner to take a clinical attachment or as doctor in a working visa type.