On 6 April 2017 the latest changes to the UK’s immigration system came into effect.
Key changes include:
- The introduction of a skills levy for Tier 2 Sponsors
- The expansion of criminal record checks for certain job roles
- Failure of basic compliance assessment is now a serious breach of sponsor compliance for Tier 4 sponsors
- UK NARIC statements can be used to demonstrate English language proficiency at the appropriate level rather than at just C1
This will be levied on employers who employ migrants in skilled jobs. Set at £1,000 per employee per year, with a reduced rate of £364 for small or charitable organisations.
Criminal records checks
A criminal record certificate requirement has been extended to Tier 2 skilled worker applicants in the education, health and social care sectors.
Tier 2 applicants from non-EEA countries in these employment sectors now need to present a criminal record certificate. This is also the case for any adult dependants of the applicant.
A list of the job roles that are subject to this requirement can be found in the Tier 2 section of the UKVI website.
Failure of basic compliance assessment is now a serious breach
Tier 4 sponsors should be aware that failing their basic compliance assessment is now considered a ‘serious breach’.
A serious breach can lead to a ‘Compliance Track 2’ process which, in the majority of cases, will mean that the sponsor will be removed from the Tier 4 Register of Sponsors whilst UKVI investigates.
It is therefore imperative that Tier 4 sponsors ensure that they make fully informed decisions, with thorough record-keeping, about their international applicants for study.
A range of UK NARIC services for organisations is available to help universities, colleges and schools understand more about international education systems and international qualifications.
UK NARIC also offers training to support Tier 4 sponsors.
More information about Tier 4 and information for Tier 4 sponsors is available on the UKVI website.
UK NARIC statements for English language
Presenting their qualifications that are at least comparable to UK Bachelor level (with UK NARIC statements evidencing the comparability) has been one of the ways in which migrants to the UK can demonstrate their English language proficiency.
The 6 April 2017 changes to the immigration rules have extended the use of UK NARIC statements to all CEFR levels. Previously, UK NARIC statements could be used to demonstrate only CEFR level C1.
This means that UK NARIC statements can now be used to demonstrate the appropriate level of English language skills to support applications to UKVI for – work; study; family; settlement; citizenship; and naturalisation.
There is more information about using UK NARIC English language statements for immigration purposes on other pages of this blog.
- being a citizen of a majority English language speaking country
- having passed a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at the appropriate level
- having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree, Masters degree or PhD
- having met the requirement in a previous grant of leave
- or special arrangements during a transition period.
In order to satisfy the third of these requirements there are two aspects that UK NARIC has to look at:
- is the qualification at least Bachelor level?
- was it taught in English?
For immigration purposes the first part is relatively easy for UK NARIC to determine; all you need to send are copies of your degree certificate, transcript and diploma supplement (and translations of these documents, if they are not in English). This will enable us to do a comparison of your qualification.
The second aspect is slightly more complex. If the qualification was studied in a majority English language speaking country, then all that is required is confirmation of the level of the qualification. A normal UK NARIC qualification comparison, based on the documents above, will be fine.
If the qualification was studied elsewhere then a Medium of Instruction letter from the awarding institution needs to be sent. This confirms that the qualification was taught (or researched) in English.
What do I need to send?
When you apply to UK NARIC through the Visas and Nationality application portal you will be told what documents you need to send to us so that we are able to assess and evaluate your qualification.
Here is a list of what you need to send:
- a photocopy or scanned version of your final certificate(s)
- a photocopy or scanned version of your final transcript(s)
- a photocopy or scanned version of a certified translation in English if necessary
- payment for the service
If you are using our services to provide evidence of your English language proficiency, then we will ALSO need:
- evidence of the medium of instruction to confirm that the qualification was taught or researched in English. In other words, a Medium of Instruction letter (an MOI letter).
We have an example on our website (PDF) for your reference.
Do I always need to send a medium of instruction letter?
The approach we have taken with our new UK NARIC Visas and Nationality service is to have an intelligent immigration-specific application portal which takes into account your circumstances and your immigration application route and then makes clear the documents you need to send us, to enable us to then issue qualification statements or English language statements as appropriate.
If the Medium of Instruction is a relevant issue, then we always ask for an MoI letter.
This ensures consistency within the process, and helps ensure its integrity, and treats all applicants in the same manner, thus it is fair.
If the logic behind the application portal detects that MoI is not relevant to an application, then it is not asked for. The application portal lists the documents that you need to upload, during the application process. MoI will be listed if it is required. MoI is not listed if it is not required.
So the position on MoI should be clear, when you apply.
If you want to check the official immigration rules, then the Home Office website is the place to go.
In early March 2016, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) section of the Home Office announced that the online Points Based System (PBS) Calculator was being turned off on 5 April 2016.
The online calculator enabled immigration applicants to self-assess their qualifications and English language level, and print out the calculator results, in advance of submitting their application to UKVI.
From 6 April onwards, those wishing to use qualifications to satisfy the immigration attribute requirements and/or English language proficiency requirements will no longer be able to use print-outs from the PBS calculator to support their applications. They will need to apply to UK NARIC VisasAndNationality (www.naric.org.uk/VisasAndNationality).
UK NARIC VisasAndNationality is the new designated service supporting individuals applying for UK visas or for settlement in the UK, provided on behalf of the Home Office.
A new online application system has been specifically developed and will provide official UK NARIC VisasAndNationality statements, custom-designed for immigration purposes. These statements confirm your academic qualification level and/or English language proficiency – as appropriate for your personal circumstances and immigration route. The new security-enhanced statements present clearly all the key information required by Home Office UKVI immigration case workers.
How will the new service work?
The new VisasAndNationality web application process asks you all the relevant questions and keeps you on the right route to help ensure you get the correct paperwork to support your immigration application. Online messaging allows you to contact the dedicated VisasAndNationality help team at any stage in your application.
Which immigration routes will the new service support?
The VisasAndNationality service supports applications made through the following PBS routes:
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur
- Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
- Tier 2 General
- Tier 2 Ministry of Religion
- Tier 2 Sportsperson
- Representative of an Overseas Business visa
The service also supports family, settlement and citizenship/nationality applications.
Other visa routes do not require UK NARIC VisasAndNationality documentation as supporting evidence. Please visit the UK Visa & Immigration website to check the particular requirements for each of the immigration routes.
If you have questions about the Immigration Rules or about your particular circumstances in relation to them, you should contact UKVI direct.
How quick will the service be?
The VisasAndNationality service offers a faster 10 day turnround time – quicker than current UK NARIC statement services which work to 15 day timeframes.
A range of delivery options are available, including next working day and, for international deliveries, fast and secure courier by DHL (delivery is charged extra, according to the option you choose).
How much will it cost?
To streamline the service and to make it as simple and efficient as possible, we offer a simple one price structure – you pay one price for your application and for your use of the service – the price is the same regardless of the number and type of statements produced. You pay per service use, not per statement.
You can submit multiple qualifications at the time of application. Again, you pay per application, not per qualification.
The price for an individual application is £125 + VAT.
For immigration advisers, solicitors and other organisations looking to process multiple applications, we offer a corporate bundle service.
How do I apply and what do I need to send?
You need to register and complete your application online.
You can also apply by post. We will need paper photocopies (not originals) of all your documents (detailed below) and a letter giving your contact details and the purpose of your enquiry.
If you apply online, you can upload scanned files. If you apply by post, send photocopies. Do NOT send original certificates or documents.
We need the following from you:
- A photocopy or scanned version of your certificate(s) together with final transcript(s) in the original language
- A photocopy or scanned version of a certified translation in English
- Evidence of the medium of instruction of your degree (in the form of an official letter from the university or institution) OR a photocopy or scanned version of your English test certificate(s).
Where can I get more information?
UK NARIC is not able to help with questions about migration to the UK; please contact UK Visas & Immigration (part of the Home Office) to find out more about the UK’s immigration system; you can contact UKVI direct.
UK NARIC has launched a new training service – On-site Support, delivering tailored training and hands-on support to teams and small groups of staff at their own offices. Our new service was launched in Wales, with the first subscriber member requesting a support day being Swansea University. The training was delivered at the beautiful Singleton Abbey (pictured) on Swansea’s campus. 20 staff from Swansea’s undergrad admissions, postgrad admissions and marketing teams took part in a tailored day that included Tier 4 compliance and ensuring best practice in counterfraud measures. Feedback was positive:
“Pleasant, easy going instructors delivering at a level that was easy to understand”
“Examples of actual documents were helpful”
“Tier 4 Compliance – importance of recording and keeping records of evidence of qualifications and any guidance notes relating to them”
“Be vigilant when checking applications”
On-site support days can be completely tailored and customised to suit particular needs. A series of ‘Fast Modules’ on core topics has been developed which serve as building blocks for a day’s programme, but these can be also be flexed and tailored to suit requirements. For information on UK NARIC’s training solutions or updates on our latest schedule of half day workshops and full day seminars, go to our website.
‘I didn’t know fraud was so common, so widespread’ – that’s the comment UK NARIC hears again and again from the university and college staff who attend its fraud workshops and seminars.
UK NARIC has been running its fraud training for over eight years – so we have trained a lot of staff from HE institutions. And in that time, we have had to develop the training year-on-year, because fraud has definitely become more common, and the fraudulent techniques adopted have become more elaborate.
The rise in numbers of international applications has increased the challenge for admissions staff – there are more applications to be sifted and checked, and from a greater variety of places, so staff have to learn and become familiar with an ever-wider array of qualification certificates and ID documents.
UK universities and colleges are in an uncomfortable position at the immigration front line. Due diligence on applications has to be completed, and the evidence and audit trails all have to be there, to justify decisions taken and to demonstrate to the Home Office auditors that robust systems are in place.
Establishing with certainty the identity of an applicant is first base. Fake ID documents are a growing problem, but so too are genuine documents obtained illegally. Check across all documents supplied looking for discrepancies in the name and in age/date of birth. Any changes in name, eg due to marriage, should of course be supported by the necessary further documents – marriage certificates etc.
Be aware that there is a growing trade in fake EU passports – a popular choice as these give entry to any EU country without a visa. You will need to learn passport security features and check that documents have all of these. Some inexpensive equipment will help – most security features can be checked with a magnifying glass and a black light (UV-A lamp).
Social media can be a useful help to you. Check on a person’s ‘web imprint’. Do their Facebook posts match their claimed age and educational history? Do locations match – during their claimed years of study, have they been posting online from the university town you would expect? Facebook and other social media image uploads can also help with checking passport photos.
The next stage is to check if the certificate is genuine. If you are receiving a good number of international applications, you can and should build a library of certificates over time, to act as a live reference base against which incoming certificates can be compared.
Check certificates for all the obvious things first – all spelling should be correct; check all alignment – are type and graphics all properly centred and is everything straight? Check that dates are rendered correctly and that they make sense in terms of the qualification. A more advanced level of checking would be to examine the signatures on the degree certificate – not only that the signature matches the genuine signature for the person named, but also that the Vice Chancellor or Principal named is correct in terms of the date of issue of the document.
Print quality is not always a good guide to genuineness. Some recognised and well-established institutions in developing countries issue degree certificates that are not especially ‘well printed’. But type and graphical alignment will still be accurate.
Steve Miller, May 2015 This post was originally published on The PIE News Blog.
UK NARIC Statements of Comparability and English Language Assessment can help with UK Visa and British citizenship applicationsPosted: January 30, 2015
Note that since this article was published, immigration guidance has changed. See our post UK NARIC’s Visas and Nationality Service launches on 6 April for more up-to-date information. Also, as of 6 April 2017, UK NARIC statements can be used to evidence English levels A1, A2, B1, and B2, in addition to C1.
UK NARIC has been receiving a lot of enquiries recently about UK Visas and British citizenship.
We cannot advise on exact requirements for visa and citizenship applications – and you cannot apply for a Visa through UK NARIC – but our services can help you with your application.
Our Statement of Comparability can help you evidence the level of your international qualifications.*
Our English Language Assessment can help you evidence your level of English.*
If you have a qualification comparable to British Bachelor level that has been taught in English then UK NARIC can check and verify that you have level C1 English in the Common European Framework.*
We may also be able to check and verify for lower levels of English if you do not need level C1.*
Check the UK Home office web pages on visas and immigration for full information on UK Visas and citizenship.*
*Please check the Home Office website to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information.
Please note that since this article has been published immigration guidance has changed. Please see our post UK NARIC’s Visas and Nationality Service launches on 6 April which contains more up-to-date information.
The latest changes to the Immigration Rules have come into effect from the 6 April 2014. Below is a summary of some of the changes that have been made:
- Expanding the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category to include leading talent in the digital technology sector, who are endorsed by Tech City UK;
- Tier 2 applicants will be granted leave to remain for five years. This means that they can go on to apply for settlement without having to reapply for further leave to remain after three years;
- Applicants for Tier 4 visas from Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates will be given more generous documentary requirements and the exemption from the genuineness test will end;
- Removing ring-fencing of MBA graduates for Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) applicants as well as restrictions on applicants’ graduation dates;
- The salary and maintenance thresholds for sponsoring dependents will be changed with effect from 1 July 2014;
- The Government Authorised Exchange is a new scheme with Tier 5 for overseas government language placements. This category will enable language teachers to carry out teaching placements at UK institutions;
- The Home Office will no longer grant B-rated licences for applications under Tier 2 and Tier 5.
There are also a number of minor changes, clarifications and technical amendments including a change to the minimum salary thresholds set out in the codes of practice for Tier 2 and 5 workers. The updates represent a 0.9% increase.
You are advised to visit the Home Office website to ensure that you receive the most up-to-date information