Focus on Immigration – English Language


Just six per cent of the global population speak English as a first language, but it is regarded as the language of science, technology and business.  It is also an integral part of the points based system for immigration to the UK.  Migrants need to demonstrate that they can speak and understand English and an increasing number are doing this by using UK NARIC’s English Language Assessment.

English Language and the PBS

Since 2008 the UK has managed migration through a points based system comprising five tiers.  Tiers 1, 2 and 4 all have an English language requirement.

Tier 1 Requirements

Three of the four routes in this tier require a proficiency in English.

Exceptional Talent

There are no English language requirements for initial entry.  If a migrant who has already been admitted through this channel wishes to extend their stay they will need to demonstrate that they have the necessary proficiency.  This can be done by using the ways shown below, but they will needs to achieve at least level B1 on CEFR if they use an approved English language test.

Entrepreneur

English language does place a part in the initial entry of a migrant through this channel.  Again they can use any of the ways set out below, but they will need to achieve at least C1 on CEFR if they use an approved English language test.

Post-study work

Under this channel migrants need to score at least 75 points for attributes.  Under the current rules migrants satisfy the English language requirements if they achieve these 75 points.

There are no requirements for Tier 1 (Investor).

(See our blog on Tier 1 for more information about applying through this route.)

Tier 2 Requirements

All the open routes under Tier 2 have English language requirements.  The Sportsman and Intra-company Transfer channels have a CEFR A1 competency; the General channel is B1 while the Minister of Religion channel has a level of B2.

Even if migrants score the required 50 from the attributes under Tier 2, applications will be refused unless they can demonstrate the necessary level of competency in English.  (See our previous blog on Tier 2 for more information applying through this route.)

Tier 4 Requirements

Although there are no points awarded through Tier 4 for English language proficiency, it is the responsibility of the sponsoring institution to ensure that the migrant meets the following requirements:

  • A Tier 4 (General) student with a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies assigned after 21 April 2011 can be enrolling on a Bachelor (QCF level 6 or equivalent level) course when they can demonstrate that they are competent to at least level B2 on CEFR.
  • If the migrant wishes to study for a qualification higher than GCSE, but lower than Bachelor level (QCF 3 – 5 or equivalent level) then they will need to demonstrate that they are competent to at least level B1 on CEFR.

Other Requirements

If a migrant is applying to come to the UK as a partner of a UK citizen or a person settled here then they will need to show that they can speak and understand English.  The level they require is CEFR A1 and they can use any of the ways described below to demonstrate their ability.  There are various exceptions and it is worth-while checking the UK BA website to fully aware of the requirements.

How to Demonstrate English Proficiency

There are three routes available to a migrant for them to demonstrate their proficiency in English:

  • They are a national of a majority English speaking country, or
  • They have passed an English language test, at or above the level for the PBS tier in which they are applying, which has been approved by the UK Border Agency, or
  • They hold a degree that was:
    • taught in English, and
    • is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above.

Majority English Speaking Countries

If the migrant comes from one of the following countries they automatically meet the English language requirements:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The United States of America

Migrants can prove they are from one of these countries by submitting either their current, original passport or travel document.

English Language Tests

The Home Office have identified English language tests that satisfy their requirements and have been mapped to the CEFR scale. These are listed on the Home Office website.

Bachelor Level Qualifications

For Tiers 1 and 2 the final way of demonstrating proficiency in English is having studied a Bachelor level qualification where the medium of instruction is English.  There are two stages to this process; the Home Office check that the qualifications are equivalent to Bachelor level and then seek confirmation that the medium of instruction was English.  If this is the case then the individual is deemed to have a proficiency of C1 on CEFR.  The best way to this is to get an English Language Assessment from UK NARIC.

 

Please ensure that you check with the Home Office website to ensure that you are using the most up-to-date information.

Tim Buttress, January 2012


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  32. Farooq says:

    Hi there

    From October 28, 2013 UKBA is introducing new requirement for settlement application, which is (1) to pass life in the UK test and (2) to demonstrate proficiency of English language at level B1 CEFR or higher. Please advise if a certificate from NARIC for English Language (ELA)Assessment workable in this case. If it is acceptable by UKBA then I will apply for ELA for my wife who has earned a bachelors degree in engineering from one of the egineering universities in Pakistan.

    Many thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,
    Farooque

    • UK NARIC says:

      The UK NARIC English Language Assessment was devised to help provide an indication of English language proficiency for Tiers 1 and 2 of the PBS. We have spoken to the UK Home Office about whether it could be used to support an application for settlement and naturalisation in the UK and we are awaiting a reply.

      We would therefore advise you to check with the Home Office directly (http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/contact/enquiries/).

      When we have received an update from the Home office we will publish this information.

  33. Leena Patel says:

    Please can you kindly email me on how many GCSEs is NVQ level 1 and 2 in Business Administration (secretarial) equivalent to and send me a chart.

    Many thanks!

    Leena

    • UK NARIC says:

      Dear Leena,

      Thank you for your post,

      Unfortunately, it isn’t with UK NARIC’s remit to compare UK qualifications to alternate parts of its educational framework. We can however provide the contact information for Ofqual who regulate the UK’s education framework and should be able to provide you with further advice on this type of enquiry.

      Ofqual:

      0300 303 3346
      info@ofqual.gov.uk

      http://ofqual.gov.uk/

      Best of luck with your enquiry.

  34. Vishal says:

    Dear UK Naric,

    My wife has got a degree – Master of Commerce and it’s taught in English Medium from Gujarat University, India. I was about to apply for English Language Assessment from UKNaric website and noticed that it does the assessment only at CEFR C1 Level where as previously few months back that wasn’t the case.

    Now, I am not sure whether my wife’s above mentioned degree meets assessment criteria or not as required by UK Naric for CEFT C1 level. Can you please advise whether I should apply for her English Language Assessment through UK Naric as I don’t want to end up in a situation where I apply for English Langaure Assessment and UK Naric tells me that it doesn’t meet the assessment criteria.

    I await your response to the above.

    Kind regards,
    Viral Seth.

    • UK NARIC says:

      Dear Vishal,

      Thank you for your post,

      The “English Language Assessment” UK NARIC offer is only available for overseas qualifications that is comparable to a UK Bachelors level award, as such the Masters award may be of too high a level for UK NARIC to complete this service.

      If your wife has also completed a Bachelors studied in English as well, we could investigate whether the or not it meets a C1 level of English Proficiency in the common European framework. UK NARIC is unable to determine whether an award will meet a C1 level without further investigation, as such the service is not guaranteed to meet this level and does contain an element of risk.

      I hope this clarifies the situation.

  35. andrea says:

    i’ve you wanna go ahead you must speak the language of the country where you are. If not you are like a mute!


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