Nazia Salmans guideline on Foundation Year Training
Hello! I’m an IMG from Karachi, Pakistan. I graduated from Aga Khan University in November 2016. I moved to U.K. in March 2017 on a PBS Tier 2 dependant visa without doing internship and applied for UKFPO Foundation Programme 2018 and was allocated to Wales foundation school in June 2018. Let me clarify: I am a non-UK/non-EU citizen, graduated from a non-UK medical school. My husband does not have British/EU passport or ILR. he is working in England on a Tier 2 General visa and I have leave to remain as his PBS dependant. My BRP states very clearly that I am not allowed to work as a doctor/dentist in training. Hence, I do not have the right to work. Despite this, I was allocated to a foundation school. I am writing a detailed post at the request of a lot of my fellow doctors so all IMGs in this group can benefit from my experience. Fair warning: I will be busting a lot of myths!
Firstly, I would advise you to go through the UKFPO website and the applicant handbook IN DETAIL. Please read it back to back. http://www.foundationprogramme.nhs.uk/pages/home
Basically this programme is for medical school graduates who like me, haven’t done internship and are eligible for provisional registration. That means that you have to give the following exams: IELTS Academic (score should not be less than 7.5 for individual bands) PLAB 1 PLAB 2 Situational Judgement Test Clinical Assessment Exam (This exam is only mandatory for applicants whose date of graduation is more than 1.5 years ago. It is held at Central Manchester University Hospital once a year. It is like an OSCE on real patients. Costs £800. If you fail it, you will be deemed ineligible for foundation programme. I did not have to give it because I graduated in Nov 2016, and submitted my application in June 2017, so I have no experience with this exam). The whole process takes roughly a year. That means that I started the application process for FP 2018 in June 2017. I was allocated to a foundation school in June 2018. the estimated timeline for FP 2019 is given on the website. Please adhere to the deadlines as they are super strict about it. I cleared IELTS in Nov 2016 in Karachi. My score was 9 across all bands. I registered passed PLAB 1 in April 2017, in London, UK. In June 2017, i submitted my eligibility application for FP 2018. For IMGs, they first have to submit an eligibility application to UKFPO, which assesses if they are eligible to apply for the Foundation programme. The eligibilty application for FP 2018 was to be submitted between June-August 2017. The eligibility form and checklist is available on UKFPO website. Based on the UKFPO assessment, you will be deemed INELIGIBLE, ELIGIBLE, or ELIGIBLE SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS. I was deemed ELIGIBLE SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS in August 2018. the conditions were as follows: 1) I had to pass PLAB 2 by March 2018 and provide evidence of provisional GMC registration by June 2018 2) I had to provide evidence of right to work by Jan 2018 (Other possible conditions they can put forward are that you might have to pass Clinical Assessment Exam by Oct 2017 if your YOG was more than 2 years ago) You will also be assigned a score out of 50 based on your class ranking and transcripts of medical school. This is known as the EPM score.
Needless to say, I did not provide right to work evidence as I did not have any. UKFPO were well aware of this fact as well.
After I was deemed eligible subject to conditions, in late September 2017, I was invited by UKFPO to register on Oriel and complete the Foundation program application. This basically consists of filling out personal details, medical school details and IELTS scores. I also had to rank all FP deaneries in order of preference (My order of preference was: North West England, Yorkshire and Humber, Scotland, Wales, Ireland…I do not remember the rest honestly)and book a date for the Situational Judgement Test. It was available on 12 Dec 2017 and 8th Jan 2018. I booked the January date.
The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is an MCQ exam which ALL FP applicants, including UK citizens and graduates of UK medical schools, have to give. It is held twice in every application cycle, and held at Business Design Centre, London. It is free of cost and scored out of 50. The ONLY source of official UKFPO endorsed preparation are 2 sample interactive tests available on the UKFPO website: http://sjt.foundationprogramme.nhs.uk/ Apart from this there are several prep courses and practice books, NONE of which are endorsed by UKFPO. I used this book for my prep which I ordered from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ultimate-FPAS-…/…/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2…
I also know of a one-day prep course for the SJT. It is very popular with alot of applicants, including UK applicants. I did not attend it, but in a lot of forums, people had spoken highly of it. The link is as follows: http://courses.emedica.co.uk/…/Foundation_Programme_Situati…
After giving the SJT, I appeared for PLAB 2 on 23rd Jan 2018, a mere 2 weeks after the SJT. Needless to say I was super stressed out. Because I did not have any right to work evidence by Jan 2018, I was informed by UKFPO that I would not be eligible to be allocated in Round 1. I was placed on the reserve list in Jan 2018.
The SJT is scored out of 50 and the EPM is also scored out of 50. That makes a CUMULATIVE RANK SCORE out of 100. Based on ranking, students are allocated to their foundation school in order of preference. There is one main allocation round in March 2018, in which all applicants who have right to work and who have met the minimum cutoff ranking score are allocated to Foundation schools. All the rest are placed on the reserve list. In FP 2018, the minimum cutoff score was 68 (I think) and 6000+ applicants were allocated to foundation schools. 204 applicants (including me) were placed on the reserve list. Out of these 204, 91 applicants had right to work, the rest did not. Reserve list allocations are held in batches. The rule is, first all applicants with right to work, irrespective of rank score would be allocated. This means for example, my rank score was 72, but an applicant with a lower score with right to work would be allocated before me. This is how RLMT is satisfied.
The second allocation round was held in the last week of April 2018. I still was not allocated. The third allocation round for reserve list applicants was in the last week of May 2018. I still was not allocated. Till May, only applicants with right to work were allocated, primarily because of the ongoing CoS issues.
In June it was announced by the Home Office that all doctors would be released from CoS restrictions. Keeping this in mind, UKFPO emailed all unallocated IMGs (including me) in the first week of June that they would soon allocate all remaining applicants to a foundation school and start visa processing asap. UKFPO requested us to start working on Tier 2 visa documentation in anticipation of the allocation. Then UKFPO held a fourth, and final allocation round for IMGs on 28th June 2018. This is when I recieved the blessed email that I was allocated to Wales Foundation School. IT WAS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!
I had already gotten GMC provisional registration and given UKVI IELTS Academic in March 2018. So not much documentation for Tier 2 visa was left. I immediately applied for DBS from UK (this is the police clearance certificate. I had lived in the UK for more than a year so I had to obtain a criminal record check from UK as well). Then I returned to Pakistan asap, got my TB certificate and police clearance certificate from Pakistan.
For IMGs, it is the Foundation School deanery (NOT UKFPO) that applies for CoS on behalf of the IMG.The deanery processes the visa details of the applicant and forwards them to the LEAD SPONSOR for that deanery according to region. UK is divided into England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The lead sponsors for these regions are as follows: England: Health Education England (HEE) Scotland: NHS Education for Scotland (NES) Wales: NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (NWSSP) (There is no lead sponsor for Ireland. The allocated deanery hospital HR applies for CoS for each applicant)
Since my allocated foundation school is Wales, my Tier 2 sponsor was NWSSP. NWSSP is a WONDERFUL sponsor! I say this because of several reasons: 1) They moved very quickly in my case. I was allocated on 28th June and submitted my request for a CoS to the Wales deanery on 2nd July 2018. NWSSP applied for my CoS the very next day and submitted the CoS application on 3rd July. The benefit of this was that they submitted it before the monthly deadline of 5th July. Hence I was allocated the CoS immediately after the Home Office meeting, on 13th July. Because this is my first ever job in UK and my first CoS, it was a restricted CoS for 2 years (the duration of the Foundation programme) 2) Unlike HEE (who refuses to certify maintenance), NWSSP agreed to tick maintenance for my CoS. I explained to them that I was a fresh graduate who had never been employed before, so I couldn’t possibly have £945 in my bank account for 90 days (which is the Tier 2 financial maintenance requirement). They were super sweet about it and agreed to certify maintenance for me without any fuss at all. They will also provide me free hospital accommodation for a year. (This is a law in Wales that all F1 trainees will be provided free accommodation for a year)
Allow me to bust a major myth. It is commonly believed that the Foundation Year 1 salary is less than the Tier 2 requirement, so CoS cannot be issued. This is incorrect. My gross salary is £23,327 with 40% banding for oncalls, so that makes a total salary of £32000, which is above the Tier 2 salary threshold. The figure of £32000 was quoted on my CoS. Also, UKVI is aware that alot of jobs, including Foundation Year 1 jobs, do not meet the £30,000 requirement. UKVI has provided a list of occupations in which salary is below £30,000, but as long as it is an ‘appropriate’ salary, CoS can be issued for Tier 2 visa for these jobs. The list of such jobs is given here (check table 2 for appropriate salary for Foundation Year 1 new entrants): https://www.gov.uk/…/immigration-rules-appendix-j-codes-of-…
My CoS was approved on 13th July 2018. I submitted my Tier 2 visa application from Karachi on 15th July 2018. My biometrics were taken on 20th July 2018. My Tier 2 is now under processing and I hope to receive it soon. Please pray that I do!
In the end, I would like to mention that all of this would never have been possible without the constant support of my AMAZING PARENTS AND HUSBAND. These 3 people have been at my side throughout. there were many dark moments in my year-long journey, a lot of people told me it is impossible and no IMG has gotten into Foundation Programme for many years. They would advise me to return to Pakistan and do internship there. I would have bouts of anxiety and stress over this as it would mean leaving my husband. But my parents and husband were always there to comfort me when I would cry, and they would encourage me to go on when I would lose hope. My mother, father and husband have made millions of duas to Allah for me, sometimes my mother would pray for me throughout the night. I would never be here without Allah and His mercy, and all those prayers that these 3 wonderful people made for me. Hence I encourage every one of you to never give up on your dreams. Anything is possible. Remember: “They plan, and Allah plans. Surely, Allah is the best of planners”. (The Quran, 08:30 Surah al-Anfal)
If you all have any query related to this, you are welcome to comment on this post, pm me on FB messenger or email me at email@example.com This post can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/IMGs.in.the.UK/permalink/2022963181070046/ Nazia Salman can be contacted here: https://www.facebook.com/nazzarshad Please try to post all your queries here as a comment though so that everyone can view this discussion.