(This visa experience is important because the applicant had a previous visa refusal and explained their case really well to the ECO and to the readers for this post).
I am a doctor from Iraq. I applied for PLAB 2 visa in September 2016 and it was refused. Then I applied in May and (alhamdulellah) I got the visa. Now I will write my experience which I hope that it will be useful for my colleagues in the PLAB community in general, and for all Iraqi doctors in specific (because there are too many challenges facing Iraqi doctors which decrease their chances of getting the visa).
Please note that this letter is adding some few points which I recognised just recently from my experience. It does not explain everything. You need to read Dr. Naseer Khan’s instructions as well because he explained all aspects of visa application. I would like to thank Dr. Naseer for his amazing blog. Without his blog, it was impossible for me to get the visa.
My first visa application in September 2016:
My previous visa was refused for two main reasons:
- There were no sufficient documents to show the origin of my money in my bank statement.
- I stated that the total amount of my trip is 5500 GBP.
1. My Bank Statement
I was not having any bank account prior to April 2016. I used to save my money by cash at my home (like most of Iraqi people). On the 20th of April 2016, I decided to open a bank account in the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) (just after passing PLAB 1) in order to support my visa application. And I deposited a total of 5000 USD at once. I was not aware of the importance of having a stable bank account that is fed regularly. This was a fatal mistake that I made unintentionally. After that, I deposited 500 USD in July (so my account was equal to 5500). When I applied for my visa I requested a bank statement of 4 months only from my bank (April to August) and I avoided showing that huge deposition (5000 USD) which was done in April. In another word, I submitted a bank statement from the last four months with only one deposition (500USD).
Very Sad Period of My Life:
After my visa refusal, I completely despaired. I thought that they refused my case because of the situation in Iraq and they will not grant me the visa. These thoughts are just a rubbish; there is nothing like this at all. If the UKVI were instructed to refuse all visas from Iraq, then they will announce this clearly and formally. They don’t need to cheat on us, the situation In Iraq has nothing to do with our chances to get the visa. We are doctors and have a good job with a relatively good pay compared with other middle eastern countries. We need to be organised and to convince the ECO (entry clearance officer).
At that time I decided to give it up. A few weeks later, I start to look for help on Facebook groups. I got a lot of advice from a lot of nice doctors. But the most important thing is that I got a link to Dr. Naseer Khan’s blog. I followed his instructions regarding bank statement and constructing cover letter literally.
What the Ideal Bank Statement Should be then?
When I applied next time in May 2017, my bank statement was like this:
- Six months’ bank statement (November to April).
- My balance was 8400 USD.
- Every month I deposited 400 USD to my account (between days 23 and 28 of each month).
- There was one withdrawal done in January (1126 USD).
- My bank provided me with a confirmation letter to confirm my account. I asked them to make it entitled to the British Embassy and to be signed by the chief executive officer and chairman of the board. Then I get this statement certified by the ministry of foreign affairs.
2. Total Amount of Money I have for the Trip
I want to explain this point very well because it is unclear to most of us.
This question is not asking you about the total amount of money you have. This is an indirect question. Its aim is to show your intentions. For instance, if your bank account balance was 10,000 USD, and you said that you are planning to stay for 2 weeks in the UK then the cost of your trip would be around 2000 GBP (around 2600 USD). In this instance ideally, you should say that the total amount of money you have for your trip is around 2500 GBP (which mean that you are allocating 2500 GBP out of your money to cover your trip comfortably so that you would not need financial support). Simply, just add 300-500 GBP to the cost of your trip.
Now, why the UKVI asking this question? It seems useless for you and me. Right? Of course, no! They are asking this question to check your intentions. This is a question that can make them refuse your case. Wait!But how? In the last example, if you said that the total amount of money that you have for this trip is 10,000 USD, this simply mean that you are not intending to stay for two weeks only (or you intend on being involved in other activities apart from the PLAB exam). Because it is illogical that you are going to spend all the money that you saved till now on merely 2 weeks trip. So they will be convinced that you are hiding something.
Constructing a Cover Letter:
My cover letter was very much like Dr. Naseer’s. I did make a few changes to make it suitable to my case. You must be very clear, honest and explain every simple point about your bank statement, career and salary. Always try to
Always try to criticize your case. Make yourself someone who wants to find mistakes and inaccuracies in your case. The UKVI’s main job is to analyse your case critically. They can find mistakes in your application. So don’t give them the chance to ask why or how. Explain everything but in a simple way.
If something is not clear to them, they will not contact you to ask you to clarify it. They might assume that you are going to do something wrong/illegal. This will affect your chances of getting the visa. Be honest all the time. Never tell lies. They will spot lies very easily. They have spent years doing this job and have evaluated countless cases. They are the experts in their field. The UKVI depends on them to keep the UK safe. At the same time, do not tell them unnecessary detail. Never be over descriptive, they may get bored and ignore the remaining part of your letter.
Always be polite, show them some respect. They like it more than you can imagine.
The length of the Trip:
The length of my trip was only for 5 days and I got a 6-month multiple-entry visa.
Mentioning the Academy:
I did not mention the academy, as I had not booked it by then.
Special Instructions for Iraqi Doctors
Obtaining a Continuing in Service Letter:
Wherever you are working, you need to ask your manager to provide you with a letter of continuing in service and tell them that they need to make it entitled to the British embassy. They will say that this letter should be obtained from the Ministry of Health and they should send your request to your province health directorate to contact the Ministry of health. (Do not worry. This is perfect for you, in fact). You need to be smart. Tell your manager to mention these details in their letter that they will send to the health directorate: your position (SHO or anything else). The total duration that you have been in service since you were employed, the reason for this letter (to take PLAB 2 exam), your total salary and mention that you are receiving your salary by cash only (the last point is very important for you).
In response to your hospital letter, the local health directorate will provide you with a letter entitled to the Ministry of Health, as the following:
To: MOH/Legal department
This is to conform that Dr. (……………………) (SHO, junior doctor on internship, consultant, etc….) is one of our directorate employees and he is employes since (…….). He/she is getting a total monthly salary of (……… IQD) (received by cash only through the accounting department of his hospital). He/she is asking for this confirmation in order to contact the British Embassy to get the visa in order to take the PLAB 2 exam.
Your health directorate will ask you to sign a financial bond to assure them that you are going to come back to Iraq. Tell them that you will do take this step at the Ministry of Health.
Get the above letter stamped officially with date and number. Get it translated. It is more than enough for the UKVI. You do not need to waste your time to go to the Ministry of Health (as they will require you to sign a financial bond of 9,000,000 IQD and will send you to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where you will be lost completely).
Why Mention that You Are Receiving Salary by Cash?
This point will make it clear to the ECO that you have no bank account linked to your salary payment, and you are not getting salary through bank deposition (as in most of the countries in the world). So, when you said that your money was your own saving, and when you submit your bank statement that shows deposition done by you personally, the ECO will know the source of this money. The ECO, then, should not ask you for the bank statement that shows your monthly salary payment.
Obtaining your Leave Permission:
You have to apply for a leave to travel outside Iraq. This is the authority of the general director of your local health directorate. Make it paid or unpaid leave (it makes no difference). My leave was for 14 days only – paid.
Which Documents do I Submit with my Visa Application:?
- My passport.
- Booking confirmation email of my PLAB part 2 examination.
- A printed copy of my PLAB 1 results.
- My recent bank statement (for the last six months).
- An original copy of my marriage contract.
- A copy of my wife passport and a translated copy of her national ID.
- A translated copy of my national ID.
- A translated copy of my residency card in Iraq.
- A letter of continuing in service issued by my employer.
- Translated permission to leave to outside Iraq (for 14 days) issued by my employer.
- A valid IELTS certificate with an overall score of 7.5.
- My MBChB transcript of records).
- A copy of my curriculum vitae (CV).
- Accommodation booking at Hatters Manchester for five days
- A recent non-conviction certificate.
- A copy of the Iraqi Medical Association ID.
- A screenshot from www.oanda.com website that shows currency conversion rate.
I made the conversions from USD or IRQ to GBP. I submitted a screenshot of Turkish Airlines website that showed the estimated price of my return flight.
I have no land or house registered in my name, so I didn’t submit anything to show that I have a land or house (don’t worry if you do not have one, you can still get a visa if you work smartly).
If you have any queries, I will be happy to help, but please do not send me messages on Facebook messenger. Rather, write down your questions on the PLAB Facebook group or Iraqi Plabbers Facebook group, and tag me. I will respond once I have time so that all doctors can read our comments and make benefit from it.
Best of luck to all of you!
Thanks a lot for reading this!
Special thanks to Dr. Naseer Khan, the amazing person who likes to help.
(This post was originally written for my blog. It was shared by the writer’s permission)