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What’s new with the UK Foundation Programme 2020 [ARCHIVED]

The UKFP office has just released the new eligibility guidance for applications to FY1 starting in August 2020. IMGs who wish to join in August 2020 will need to submit the eligibility application this July 2019 so make sure you're up to date with the guidance!

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What is new in the eligibility guidance for the UK foundation programme for international medical graduates

This article is now outdated, and only kept here for historical information purposes. Please do not make any plans for the future based on this article. For the latest information on how to apply for the UK Foundation Programme, please see this article: Apply for the UK Foundation Programme as an IMG

UPDATED: February 10th, 2020

The UK Foundation Programme (UKFP) is the UK postgraduate training programme for new medical graduates. It’s a 2-year programme consisting of Foundation Year 1 (FY1) which is equivalent to internship, and Foundation Year 2 (FY2) which is an additional year of experience before starting specialty training.

The UKFP office has just released the new eligibility guidance for applications to FY1 starting in August 2020. International medical graduates who wish to join in August 2020 will need to submit the eligibility application this July 2019 so make sure you’re up to date with the guidance! All relevant documents are on the official website here.

Now, the new eligibility guidance has provided some clarification on certain issues that will hopefully clear a lot of confusion. Let’s get started.

In the new guidance

1. Clarification on who should take PLAB for provisional registration

I tend to see quite a lot of questions in the Facebook groups about whether or not IMGs who are EU Nationals are required to take PLAB. The new eligibility guidance has this very useful table:

This table shows which medical graduates are required to sit the PLAB exams depending on nationality and country of qualification.
Do I need to sit PLAB in order to obtain provisional registration with the GMC? Eligibility Applicant Guidance 2020, p. 8

This clearly shows that EU nationals are magically exempt from PLAB based on nationality alone and do not need to sit PLAB regardless of which country they graduated from.

For UK nationals it’s a different story. PLAB is still required for UK nationals who graduate from a non-EU medical school.

Non-EU nationals need to sit PLAB unless they graduate from a UK medical school.

2. Open to all applicants regardless of nationality

In the past, the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) prioritised applicants who had Right to Work in the UK AKA RTW. This included:

  • UK medical graduates
  • IMGs who are British citizens
  • IMGs who are EU citizens
  • IMG’s married to a British or EU citizen
  • IMG’s with permanent residence status in the UK AKA Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Anyone who did not fall under one of these categories was considered to have no RTW. Those without RTW would be automatically rejected or placed on the reserve list even if they had a high application score. 

This changed in February 2020. The UKFPO no longer prioritises those with RTW and will give everyone equal chance of getting a place.

3. OET is still not accepted as evidence of English proficiency

The GMC started accepting the OET as evidence of English language proficiency in 2018 but unfortunately, the UK FP did not. With this year’s new guidance it appears this is still the case.

For 2020, the UK FP only accepts the following as evidence of English proficiency:

  1. IELTS with a minimum of 7.5 in all sections OR
  2. Dean’s statement confirming that your medical degree was taught and examined solely in English, and more than 75% of clinical interactions were also conducted in English.

The OET is accepted for any other job that is not part of the Foundation Programme. Read more about IELTS vs OET here.

Update Jan 2020: OET is now accepted by the UK FP in January 2020 which is already too late for August 2020 applicants, but can be helpful for those applying for August 2021. Please take note that the UK FP passing score for OET is 400 in all sections.

Submitting your application for eligibility checking

Applications for eligibility must be submitted online through the Oriel website. You will be asked to complete an online application form and upload your supporting documents.

The eligibility application window will open at 09:00 (BST) on Monday 24th June 2019. All applications must be submitted by 12:00 (BST) on Wednesday 7th August 2019.

Make sure you know all the other requirements for GMC so you make the deadline.

Please take note that these times are very strict. Late applications will not be considered under any circumstances.

What you need at the time of eligibility checking

  • Proof of ID
  • Signed Dean’s statement
  • IELTS with 7.5 in all sections (unless the Dean confirms that your medical school, including the majority of patient interactions, was conducted in English and your school is not this on list.)
    • Please note that if you have taken IELTS but do not have the results by the deadline of Wednesday 7th August 2019, your application will not be accepted.

What can be submitted after eligibility checking

  • Passing your medical school final exams
  • Your medical certificate
  • PLAB 1 & PLAB 2
  • Provisional GMC registration

Deadlines for the other requirements

Passing your medical school final exams31st October 2019You need confirmation of passing your finals to book PLAB 1. The last day you can book PLAB 1 on 7th November 2019 is 31st October so that is also the last possible day that you can get confirmation of passing your final exams. It is very unlikely however that there will be any available places for PLAB if you book on the last day.
PLAB 17th November 2019If you do not book a place on this date then you will not be able to proceed with your FP application.
PLAB 2March/April 2020 (Final date TBC)If you do not pass PLAB 2 by these dates you may not be able to obtain your GMC registration in time to start FY1 by August 2020. Some leeway may be given depending on the deanery.
Your medical certificate and provisional GMC registrationMay 2020 You must have your GMC registration by 5th August 2020. The GMC can take up to 3 months to process an application so submitting your application by May 2020 you should give you enough time.


The new UK FP guidance has clarified some issues relating to the eligibility of IMGs and has confirmed the relevant dates relating to applications. This article points out some of the key information contained in the guidance but do make sure to read the guidance in full.

FY1 is ideal for IMGs who have not yet completed internship. If this doesn’t apply to you, read our article on the best first jobs in the UK to see what an ideal first job in the UK would be for you. 

For the full step-by-step guide check our our article Pathway A which outlines the steps for IMGs applying for the UK Foundation Programme.

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in the article above. This means that at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a booking or purchase by clicking on the link. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves or have proven success amongst IMGs.

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18 Responses

  1. Hello Mr Nick
    If i apply for internship after plab 1 and 2 exams oversees and that too according to gmc internship criteria , am i eligible for full gmc registration?

  2. Hi,
    As a non EEA citizen, studying in EEA medical university I have to take PLAB, which as I understand you can only take after graduation. In that case, would that mean loosing a year after graduation to sit PLAB1&PLAB2 and only then, after passing it, applying for FP1?

  3. Hello,

    I am a Canadian citizen who will be completing medical school by May 2020 in Poland and will be applying for FY1 program next year. I don’t believe I have the RTW in the UK but was wondering what my chances are and am I ranked based on the PLAB scores?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi
      My husband is working in UK with tier 2 visa and I can go there as it possible to get fy1 over there with this visa ?

      1. You can apply but you will not have RTW so you will have last priority for a place like any other IMG. Please see our FAQ page under the section Foundation Programme for more information.

  4. Hello,
    I want to apply for Foundation Programme next summer. I have contacted them by email regarding IELTS. I wanted to clarify which type of IELTS (academic or general) do we need to pass to be eligible for this programme. They have replied to me that at the moment both types are acceptable, although this might change for the next year.
    Do you know anything about it?

  5. is there good probability of getting admission to FY1 in 2021 august for who graduate in 2020 januvary in a russian university
    if complete plab 2 before march 2021
    how to get viza for FY1 ,is it possible to get viza without a institute or university in uk
    or better if complete internship in a different country and directly apply 2021 FY2
    if i do work in a private hospital for a year till im completing plabs in my country srilanka will they get it as internship?

    1. Hi, to answer your questions:

      1. If you do not have right to work in the UK, then the chances of limited. Please read the important notes in red here:

      2. You will only get a visa for FY1 once you are given a job.

      3. If it is part of an official internship programme and meets the other requirements for internship, then yes. Check all the requirements for internship here.

  6. Hi! Why they didn’t mentioned that EU graduates have the right to work in UK? do you think it was accidentally?

    1. It’s not clear if this is a mistake or due to changes related to Brexit. I have emailed the UK Foundation Programme for clarification and will update this article when I receive a response.

      1. Have you received any reply from the UKFPO on this issue?
        I believe the following: since the UKFPO does not know whether the UK will still be in the EU on February 27th 2020, they have included only the categories they are absolutely sure will have RTW on that date. Nobody really knows if the whole Brexit process will have a conclusion or not.

        – If the UK will still be in the EU, EEA nationals will be exepted as usual
        – If the UK leaves the EU before February 27th, EEA nationals will be under the same rules of the other IMGs

        This is just my interpretation. What do you think?

        1. Your assumptions are correct. I just received a response from UKFPO this morning actually and they’ve said:

          Currently in the UK , EU Nationals and Swiss Nationals have right to work in the UK. This has been omitted in the applicant handbook in case of a hard Brexit.

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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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