Help for refugee doctors

Refugee status

To be classed as a refugee, for the purposes of being registered with a licence to practise, you must be granted refugee status under one of the following categories.

  • Refugee status (having been recognised as a refugee under the 1951 United Nations Convention).
  • Indefinite leave to remain (with refugee status).
  • Indefinite leave to enter (with refugee status).
  • Exceptional leave to remain (granted prior to 1 April 2003).
  • Humanitarian leave to remain (also known as humanitarian protection, granted on or after 1 April 2003).
  • Discretionary leave to remain (with no restrictions on working, granted on or after 1 April 2003).
  • Leave to remain under any family settlement visa (family member with refugee status).

As part of an application with us, we will need you to submit Home Office evidence confirming you have been granted refugee status under one of the categories above.

What evidence will you ask me to provide?

The evidence that we ask for depends on your particular circumstances, such as work history, qualifications and nationality. 

We know that doctors holding refugee status may have difficulty providing original documents as these may have been lost or destroyed. In these cases, we try to directly verify documents where possible or look for alternative ways to confirm they are genuine. We will always ask your permission before attempting to verify any documentation.

We are also aware that due to individual circumstances, doctors holding refugee status may not be able to provide the standard evidence we require. In these cases, we will look at every application to see if we can accept alternative evidence in its place.

The evidence you may be asked to provide

Help with registration fees for refugee doctors

If you have UK refugee status, or meet one of the other categories listed above, you may be able to get help with your registration fees. 

The help we can offer with registration fees

Help with primary source verification fees

As an international medical graduate, you will need to have your primary medical qualification (and postgraduate qualification, if you have one) independently verified before we can grant registration with a licence to practise. If you have been granted refugee status in the UK, we will pay the verification fees to ECFMG on your behalf. Most doctors with refugee status will need to take the PLAB test. You should ask about the verification process when you book part 1 of the test, and you do not need to start the process before then.

Guide to primary source verification for international medical graduates.

What can other organisations do to help?

We would recommend before you apply, you contact an organisation that can advise and support you through the registration process. These organisations can also provide careers advice as well as guidance and employability skills development training. We currently work directly with several organisations, providing advice to their clients before a doctor applies for registration and a licence to practise or to sit the PLAB test. This means we can provide tailored advice for each doctor and their particular circumstances, which can significantly speed up the application process. 

See below organisations that may be helpful:

Bridges Programmes - Provide similar services as REACHE and RAGU for doctors in Scotland

British Medical Association (BMA) - The BMA Refugee Doctor Initiative is a special package of free benefits, available to refugee and asylum seeking doctors as they seek to establish their careers in the UK.

RAGU (Refugee Assessment and Guidance Unit) – The Building Bridges programme is an NHS funded partnership for all Refugee Health Professionals living in London and is made up of three organisations: RAGU, Glowing Results and the Refugee Council. RAGU specifically provides careers advice alongside guidance and employability skills development training for all Refugee Health Professionals.

The Refugee Council – The Refugee Council provides free advice and information to asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.

REACHE Northwest – They provide refugee, and asylum-seeking doctors and nurses who live in the North West with advice and guidance, CV feedback, preparation for the Occupational English Test, PLAB preparation, placements and support with adaptation to the NHS.

The Lincolnshire Refugee Doctor Project – Aims to create the best possible scheme in Lincolnshire for supporting refugee doctors back into medical practice in the UK. The programme aims to help doctors refresh their skills, knowledge and confidence, to requalify to UK standards, and to secure employment appropriate to their professional qualifications. The programme will also help the doctors settle with their families in Lincolnshire and will be offering humanitarian support to refugee doctors and their families.

WARD (Wales Refugee and Asylum Seeker Doctors) Group  Provide similar services as REACHE and RAGU for doctors in Wales.

REPOD – Provide a structured programme of support to enable refugee and asylum seekers healthcare professionals and their families to be settled into local communities, enter clinical practice and maintain and develop their skills. The programme includes OET and IELTS classes delivered by qualified tutors and REPOD also provides reasonable financial assistance towards English and PLAB exams and other registration associated costs.

The programme is run as a partnership between IPC (Investing in People and Culture), North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and Health Education North East (HENE). Funding has been provided through Health Education England North East. For further information or enquires please contact Bini Araia at