The Savvy IMG

Pathway A: From IMG to UK specialist (UK Foundation Programme)

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This pathway is for IMGs who aim to apply for the 2-year UK Foundation Programme.

It is suitable for you if you fit the following profile:

It is not applicable to the following:

  • Standalone/LAT FY1
  • Standalone/LAT FY2
  • Any non-training/LAS/locum job at  FY1/FY2 level
  • Any other job of any title at any level

Please note that this pathway is best for those who have right to work in the UK (RTW). This includes the following: 

  • UK nationals who graduated overseas
  • Foreign nationals with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) who graduated overseas 
  • Foreign nationals who graduated overseas and are the spouse/civil partner/dependent of a UK or foreign national with ILR

There may be other immigration categories that have RTW in the UK however most foreign nationals do not have RTW. If you think you might have RTW, please seek advice from an immigration adviser.

What if I don’t have RTW?

There is no guarantee that you will get a spot in FY1.

FY1 posts are hard to come by for IMGs as all doctors with RTW are given jobs first before those who do not have RTW. There are usually more than enough doctors with RTW to fill all the jobs therefore few jobs are available for those without RTW. 

Fortunately, around 80-90 IMGs without RTW were accepted into FY1 in 2018 and 2019 so it’s not impossible, but not all were successful. 

If you do not have RTW, please have a backup plan to complete internship back home first before coming to the UK. This would put you on Pathway B.

What if I don’t get a place in the Foundation Programme?

If you do not get a post, you cannot apply to any other job as a UK doctor. 

Doctors who have not completed internship are only eligible for provisional GMC registration. The only job you can apply to with provisional registration is an approved Foundation Year 1 (FY1) training post as part of the 2-year Foundation Programme. 

Your only option to continue work as a doctor in the UK is to reapply the next year, again with no guarantee of success.

After the Foundation Programme

Most IMGs typically pursue specialty training after the Foundation Programme which is why I have included Step 3 and 4, but you don’t have to. What you do after the Foundation Programme is completely up to you.

Applications for IMGs aiming to join the UK Foundation Programme in August 2021 are now open! The deadline to submit your application is September 2nd, 2020.

Please see the step-by-step process on how to apply below.

For the full information, you can read the official application guidance here:

Stage 1 – Eligibility checking:

Stage 2 – Proper application:

If you think you do not fit this profile or the pathway doesn’t sound right for you, make sure to go through the pathway finder tool!

Step 1. Simultaneously obtain provisional registration with the GMC and apply for the UK Foundation Programme

This step can be quite tricky so please read the UK Foundation Programme eligibility guidance and the FAQ section very carefully.

2 things are required for eligibility checking as a minimum:

  1. Proof of ID
  2. Dean’s statement
Dean’s statement

Download the dean’s statement form from the UK FP website.  Full instructions on how to complete it are included in the document.

Applications for eligibility are submitted online through the Oriel website between 20th July –2nd September 2020.

Late applications are NOT accepted for any reason.

  • Proof of English proficiency
    The only types of evidence accepted are:

    1. IELTS with 7.5 in all sections
    2. OET with 400 in all sections
    3. Dean’s statement confirming that your medical degree was taught 100% in English, and patient interaction was more than 75% in English

    Read the Foundation Programme FAQ about the English requirements.

If you are taking IELTS or OET, you must submit proof of your passing score by October 7th, 2020. Late submissions will not be accepted.

You’ll find out on 21st September 2020 whether or not you are eligible to apply for UKFP.

If you are deemed eligible, then you need to submit your online application for FY1 through the Oriel website between 19th October – 4th November 2020.

Late applications are NOT accepted for any reason.

You can read the guidance on applications here:

You can open this account once you’ve passed your final exams. You do not need to have your certificate/diploma in hand.

Open your GMC Online account here.

If you graduated medical school 2 years before the start date of FY1, then you will be required to sit the clinical assessment which is a practical exam similar to PLAB 2.

The clinical assessment takes place between 17-19 November 2020, and costs £850.

Anyone who graduates from a medical school outside the EU, regardless of nationality, will need to sit PLAB. EU graduates are exempt.

Check here if you need to sit PLAB. 

PLAB is booked through your online GMC account. Read our article for all the essentials about PLAB 1 & 2.

If you book PLAB in the UK, you may need to apply for a Visitor Visa.

The last date you can sit PLAB 1 in order to start FY1 on time, is November 5th 2020. 

If you do not sit and pass the November 5th 2020 PLAB 1  then you cannot start FY1 in time and you will need to reapply for the next year.

From 16 November – 4 December, 2020 you will have time to book the SJT.

The dates for the SJT will be between 7-19 December 2020, and 18-23 January 2021.

All applicants to the Foundation Programme need to take the SJT. More information can be found here.

This can take time so we recommend doing it as soon as you have your certificate from medical school.

Step-by-step guide on how to obtain EPIC verification of your Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ) AKA your medical diploma or certificate.

The announcement of the first match on 11th March, 2021 is called the primary list allocation. Not everyone will get a slot in this first round. 

Those who do not get a place will be placed on the reserve list and will have to wait for doctors on the primary list to drop out to get a place. Reserve list allocations are announced in batches. 

You must take PLAB 2 by March/April prior to the start date of the Foundation Programme to allow enough time for your GMC registration to be processed.

For PLAB 2 it’s usually best to enrol in an academy to prepare. These are the 15 things you should consider when looking for one.

Apply for a UK Visitor Visa if needed.

I used Airbnb during my stay in the UK where I had a room to myself, spending around £110 a week, and 8 mins walk to a station to get to my PLAB academy. Sign up here to get £25 off your first booking.

Uber is a convenient way to get around the UK especially late at night when public transport may be closed or if travelling in groups. Get a discount when you use the code 7798ae to sign up.

This is done online through your GMC account. You may need to submit some documents by post.

You should submit your application by May to allow enough time for your GMC registration to be processed.

All documents are valid for a certain time period only. Read about the deadlines here.

This first step can be quite expensive. Read about all the costs and how to save money when applying for GMC registration.

Step 2. Complete the UK Foundation Programme

Future article

Read about these organisations in this article.

An article on how to find medical indemnity cover will be published in the future.

FY1 only starts in August, there is no other starting date.

You can defer FY1 for a limited period of time for statutory reasons only (maternity leave and sick leave).

Read about how much you’d earn as an FY1 and FY2.

All competences are recorded on the electronic portfolio and through annual review.

Step 3. Secure a training job

The trend now for UK doctors is to have a gap year between completing the UK Foundation Programme and applying for specialty training. However, most IMGs prefer to enter specialty training directly.

This is a personal decision but it is also influenced by any visa restrictions you may have. Just remember that if you work in the Foundation Programme through a Tier 2 visa, and do not get a job immediately after, then a “cooling off” period will apply and you will not be able to obtain a Tier 2 visa again for at least 12 months.

Many doctors take a gap between FY2 and specialty training. If you have right to work in the UK you may do this without affecting your eligibility to apply for CT1/ST1.

However if you are on a Tier 2 visa for the Foundation Programme, you will lose your exemption from RLMT if you have any career gaps. In order to be eligible for Round 1 of specialty training for all specialties, you must proceed directly from FY2 to CT1/ST1. If you do have a career gap, you can still apply in Round 1 for GP and any specialty on the Shortage Occupation List.

If you are in the Foundation Programme on a Tier 2 visa, you will be exempt from RLMT and therefore eligible for Round 1 in the same UK nation when applying to ST1/CT1 as long as you apply during FY2.

Read about why RLMT exemption is important here.

Check whether you need to present a physical portfolio in the application requirements of the specific specialty.

MSRA is required for: GP, Radiology, Ophthalmology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Community Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (CSRH), Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Core Psychiatry and Neurosurgery.

More information about the MSRA here.

Future article

Reviews for the different regions can be found on these websites:

Junior reviews

This is done through Oriel. You will be given a set time to accept an offer or you will lose it.

Step 4. Complete training

Once you are in your training job, you simply have to complete the requirements of your specialty. This will involve compiling evidence of your skills and knowledge in your electronic portfolio, passing exams, and undergoing an Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP).

If you are in an uncoupled specialty, you will have to apply for ST3/ST4 when you are in your final year of core training. For run-through programmes, you will not have to re-apply for higher specialty training as your progression is direct.

When you reach the end of your training programme, you will be awarded a CCT. You then use this to apply for GMC Specialist Registration which will allow you to apply for Consultant jobs. Or if you complete GP training you use your CCT to apply for GMC GP Registration then you can apply for GP jobs.

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Looking for a step-by-step guide?

Subscribe to the Savvy IMG and grab your FREE 2-year roadmap to UK residency as an IMG.


Looking for a step-by-step guide?

Subscribe to the Savvy IMG and grab your FREE 2-year roadmap to UK residency as an IMG.


19 Responses

  1. Hello,
    I am a wife of British citizen.
    I completed my medical degree( MBBS) from Pakistan but didn’t do my house job (one year internship) .
    I want to apply for FY1 but don’t know what to do first . What exams are required and how to apply for FY1

    1. Hi there, you can follow the steps in the timeline above 🙂 It can get quite confusing so if you are looking for one-to-one guidance for your specific personal circumstances, you might be interested in booking a session to discuss your options. For more details, please visit our page here.
      I look forward to speaking with you!

  2. Hello,
    I am a wife of British citizen.
    I completed my medical degree( MBBS) from Pakistan but didn’t do my house job (one year internship) .
    I want to apply for FY1 but don’t know what should I do first . What exams are required and how to apply for FY1

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Meet the Team

Hi, we’re Drs Nick & Kimberly Tan, the two IMGs behind The Savvy IMG. We write comprehensive guides, create courses, and provide one-to-one guidance to help other overseas qualified doctors on their journey to the UK.
We have scoured the official guidance to put these posts together, but we can make mistakes! If you spot anything that is incorrect, please get in touch and we’ll put it right.
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