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If ever there was a debate that had no end, it would be this one:
Should I mention the academy/course I’ll be attending before PLAB 2 in my visa application?
Ultimately, it is your choice, but I will just present for you the realities of both situations, what you can expect, and why I personally think it’s best to just tell the truth.
Don't lie in your visa application
First and foremost, please do not try to hide anything in your visa application. Just don't. It won't help you any in the long run if they catch you in a lie. Attending a course/academy is not illegal. But remember that you should mention the course properly in your application, ensuring you state it is just to help you pass your PLAB 2 because PLAB 2 is the main reason for your visit.
PLAB 2 academies does NOT award you any degree
You should make it more than evident that the academy you are attending is NOT one in which you will receive any sort of certification, degree, qualification, etc. Also, state that it is merely something you wish to use to aid in your prep for PLAB 2.
The visa website has the following to say regarding studying while in the UK on a Standard Visitor visa:
As you can see, you're allowed to study up to 30 days, so long as it's not the main reason for your visit. Please ensure you are clear about that. Once you click the link regarding the 30-day study, you will find the following:
The last line of this screenshot is the most important thing to keep in mind- courses that are recreational and don't count towards qualification don't have to follow this rule.
Which rule? Accredited. Licensed.
These academies don't need to be accredited.
Because they don't count towards any qualification.
Another mistake I often see is that people don't realize when they are applying that they must choose the 'business' option. Oft time people choose 'study', not realizing their mistake. It is at that time that the courses they mention come under scrutiny.
For further information regarding what to choose and what to fill in your online visa application, please read UK Visa Guidance : Online Application (Part 1).
You must clarify the length of the course
Many fail to clarify that the course length is only 2 weeks or less, and often times make it seem that the practicing they will be doing post-course and pre-exam are still a part of the main course- thus making their course longer than 30 days.
You can mention practice days, but again, make it clear it is NOT a part of the 15 (or less) days course you are attending. Also, make it clear in the cover letter and cost breakdown that you've already paid for the academy. Make sure the attached letter from the academy is also clear in that regard.
"Will you be visiting a company or organization in the UK?"
This is a question you answer in your online application form while applying for the UK visit visa. And mistakenly a LOT of applicants fill their PLAB 2 academy course details here.
NO. This is not the case.
These PLAB 2 academies or courses are not authorized to invite you to visit the UK. But if you are in the UK for any other reason e.g. taking PLAB 2 exam or even on tourism, you can attend these courses as the length of study is never more than 30 days.
Make sure you answer "no" to the above question in the online visa application and mention about attending an academy in the cover letter only.
Frequently Asked questions
Yeah, but I've heard of so many people who haven't mentioned an academy and they got their visa just fine
That's true. You should take my advice with a grain of salt. It's always best to hear back from those who have applied from your home country and understand what the visa officials want to see in the papers. That being said, there have been many situations where someone has not mentioned the academy and the visa officers have issued the visa date according to the timeline given on their cover letter/breakdown of itinerary, which is often 2-3 days before the exam:
Again, you don't want to be in that unfortunate circumstance where you get a valid visa, but you can't attend a course you've booked because your visa doesn't start until much later.
My friend and I applied at the same time, but he got the visa and I didn't. This means that mentioning the academy is wrong.
If the visa officer felt the course was not recreational, then the fault lies in the explanation given in the cover letter. I have mentioned time and again that one must be crystal clear about this. If in fact, it was by some sheer chance that some are getting the visa and mentioning academy whilst others are not because it isn't permitted, I would think we would find very little evidence of individuals actually getting a visa if they mentioned an academy. The UK visa office is not in the habit of just letting some cases slip through that would be deemed not permitted.
Do I put my academy name and details to the question whether I was invited by any company or organization (online UK Visa application)?
No. These academies are not bringing you to the country and they are not "accredited" to do so. You are not coming to the UK on their invitation. Your reason is PLAB 2 and you will attend an academy to help you prepare. So, no company or organization is inviting you.
How can I make sure my academy is legitimate?
There is public information available for us to see whether the course that we are going to attend are active or not, whether they have the legal permission to function or not- all you have to do is search their name here.
I feel the need to add in a heavy disclaimer: What I have mentioned above is my tried-and-true method of applying for a visa. Yes, I have known others who have followed these guidelines and succeeded. That being said, I am aware of a minority who have not mentioned an academy and still comfortably gotten dates to accommodate their course. So, I repeat, ASK AROUND. If you know of others from your country who have applied recently, ask them about their application. Look at their cover letter. Ask them how they mentioned each and every point.
At the end of the day, be comfortable in whatever choice you make, and never do something you feel you're doing just because 'someone told you to'.