An update on the latest UK Home Office immigration rules and guidance, effective from 6 April 2017


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

Skills levy

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.


UK NARIC and English language for immigration purposes


English LanguageUnder the immigration rules, there are five ways to prove that you meet the English language proficiency requirements:

  • 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.

 

 

 


UK NARIC’s Visas and Nationality Service launches on 6 April


Arrivals

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.

For more information about UK NARIC’s VisasAndNationality service please visit the website www.naric.org.uk/VisasAndNationality or email visas@naric.org.uk


Benchmarking the Advanced Programme: English


This article was first published on the ECCTIS Blog

The Independent Examinations Board in South Africa has recently added the Advanced Programme: English to their suite of qualifications.  The IEB conducted a pilot study of the AP: English in 2011, with the national roll-out being launched in 2012.  The AP: English is a new qualification offered by the IEB in addition to the National Senior Certificate, intended to provide the opportunity for students to study English in further depth and increase the number of students following programmes including English at tertiary level.  It followed the launch of the then newly developed National Senior Certificate and AP: Mathematics in 2010.

Following the benchmarking study undertaken in 2010, which examined the NSC and AP: Mathematics, this study sought to benchmark the AP: English against UK qualifications.  It confirmed that the AP: English can be considered comparable to GCE Advanced level standard.

Exemplar GCE A level programmes were used to assist with the benchmarking study.  The majority of the core components of the GCE A level programmes were also covered by the AP: English, although some differences were observed in the entry requirements and the content of the programmes.  However, these differences were deemed to be due to cultural differences between the two systems rather than an indication of disparities in academic level.  There were clear links between assessment standards and objectives, as well as the depth and breadth of the programmes in providing the skills required for tertiary study. This resulted in the following comparable level:

Independent Examinations Board Programme Comparability
Advanced Programme English Is considered comparable to GCE A level standard

Further information on the IEB AP: English can be found on the IEB website.  For information on the project work undertaken, please contact mailto:projects@naric.org.uk.

 


UK NARIC Statements of Comparability and English Language Assessment can help with UK Visa and British citizenship applications


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.


UK NARIC helping with Tier 4 Highly Trusted Sponsor Compliance


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.

 

 

Universities and colleges across the country need to comply with strict guidelines to bring students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to study in the UK.  There have been high profile suspensions of universities and colleges which have failed to comply with these guidelines resulting in significant damage to the reputation of the institution as well as having a meaningful effect on revenues.

There are no hard and fast rules on how education providers can ensure they can keep their Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) status, but it is apparent that demonstrating good practice in the recruitment of international students is an important step in the right direction.

Working with institutions and the Home Office UK NARIC has been able to identify the following areas as being important steps in being able to help institutions keep or achieve HTS and thereby achieve compliance.

Compliance is the Key

In order to bring students to the UK from outside the EEA universities and colleges need to have HTS status.  HTS is something that is “given” to education providers by the Home Office.  Having, and keeping, HTS is the main aim of all education institutions that engage in the recruitment of international students.

The best way to gain and maintain HTS is to be compliant with the Home Office’s sponsor requirements.

There are numerous criteria to which institutions have to comply and we feel that it is useful to highlight four areas:

  • Adopting best practice
  • Ability to follow a course
  • Counter fraud
  • English Language Proficiency

Adopting best practice

Education providers in the UK need to clearly demonstrate that they are using tried and tested processes to identify and evaluate potential students from outside the EEA.  The Home Office are not going to tell higher education institutions or colleges how they should market themselves or whether they are over-estimating the abilities of an individual; but they do want to see that there are policies and procedures and that the institution is following good practice.

Policies and Procedures

When it comes to evaluating applicants from outside the EEA institutions need to show that they are being consistent.  Universities and colleges need to be able to demonstrate that they have a system in place.  Using UK NARIC’s data is one way of doing this.  All UK NARIC’s members are entitled to a “Membership Certificate”.  This does not mean that UK NARIC accredits the institution (if you become aware of any institution claiming to be accredited by UK NARIC please let us know!), it simply confirms that the institutions is a member of UK NARIC and therefore has access to our data and services.  The Membership Certificate clearly shows that the institution is using “an independent authority” to help them evaluate the qualifications of international applicants.  If you are a member of UK NARIC and you would like to order a Membership Certificate please contact your Account Manager.

There are a number of other criteria that can be used to demonstrate good practice and we could fit many blog articles with them.  However, it is worth highlighting a couple more:

Staff development: Make sure that relevant staff are kept up-to-date with the latest developments in education internationally.  This can be done through Newsletters; there are a number of relevant newsletters available (QAA, UUK’s International Unit, AUA, UK NARIC).  Additionally, staff could attend training courses and conferences.  UK NARIC runs a number of professional development courses that have been designed for this purpose; additionally UCAS, UKCISA and many other organisations run courses and conferences throughout the year.  Finally, it is important to keep up-to-date with immigration policy; UK NARIC is now running events that are specifically design to help higher education professionals to do this.

Admissions Policy: An Admissions Policy should set out the way in which an institution evaluates applicants.  It should be readily available and it should provide information on the sources of information staff should use to make decisions.  Which sources of information does your institution use: internal databases? UK NARIC? Any other sources?  These should all be listed.  Additionally, if your institution has particular policies on an institution, country or region this should be detailed in the Policy.  The Policy should cover how you deal with Agents and what relationship you have with Agents.

Ability to follow a course

Under Tier 4 institutions should only issue a CAS once they are satisfied that a student both intends and is able to follow the course of study concerned.

The key point here is being able to assess an individual’s ability.

This can be done through the applicant’s previous qualifications, their performance in an admissions test or through interview.  If an institution is using previous qualifications to assess an applicant’s suitability, then they need to “confirm any qualifications the student already has which make them suitable for the course” on the CAS, i.e. use UK NARIC’s data.

Assessing a student’s suitability is very important.  It is the way in which institutions can be sure they have a committed student; but how can institutions be sure that the qualifications are genuine?

Counter fraud

We have covered education fraud in another article in this blog, and it is important that higher and further education institutions develop systems and processes to combat education fraud (in fact it should be covered in the Admissions Policy!).

The Home Office’s view on fraud is:

“We would encourage Sponsors to take all reasonable steps to verify the authenticity of a document; it is in the Sponsor’s interests to do so

Rooting out the non bona fide applications before issuing a CAS would save them from paying a CAS fee for a student who won’t enter the UK.

If an institution repeatedly sponsors applicants with non bona fide documents it may affect their Sponsor rating and could ultimately lead to their removal from the register.”

Therefore, it is vitally important that institutions wishing to gain or maintain HTS have a way of finding out whether a qualification is bogus.  Members of UK NARIC are able to use the Counter Fraud Service which will provide members with the knowledge needed to be able to make better judgments about whether a qualification is legitimate.  There is also the Degrees of Deception publication and a training course.

English Language Proficiency

There have been examples of when students have used bogus English language qualifications to enter the UK. The Home Office has established criteria for those wishing to study in the UK. There are a number of different ways in which applicants can show that they meet the different levels that have been specified, please refer to the Tier 4 guidance policy.

Tim Buttress, June 2013

 

 

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


Reflections: Cambodia


I’ve recently had the opportunity to travel through Cambodia – a country still struggling to overcome a chaotic and tragic recent history (for a brief summary visit the BBC website), but now benefitting from substantial international aid and the positive energy of its youthful population (50% of the population are under 25 years old). A visitor to Cambodia, and Phnom Penh in particular, cannot help but notice the country’s emerging potential.

Cambodia currently faces a range of deep-seated problems. Revenue from natural resources has not fed back into the public purse. Political freedom is limited. As you travel from one village or town to the next, it strikes you that the grandest buildings tend to belong to one of the three main political parties.

The majority of the rural population subsist rather than prosper. Of the 14 million population, 4 million live on less than $US 1.25 per day (the US dollar being the de facto currency). Furthermore, 37% of Cambodian children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.

In economic terms, the clothing manufacture sector predominates and accounts for 75%-80% of current exports. Silk is a traditional speciality. However, a visit to local silk farms illustrates one of the major problems facing Cambodia: it is uneconomic to produce silk through local silkworms, so raw silk is usually imported from China. The silkworms are mostly on show for tourists. Much of the revenue derived from the silk retail trade goes directly to international raw silk producers. This is despite Cambodia being the traditional home of ‘golden silk’, a unique and natural raw yellow silk.

Given these and other significant issues, it may seem odd to highlight the potential of the country. However, there are also many causes for optimism, not least the ordinary Cambodian people you meet.

The radically improved road network, largely the result of substantial Chinese aid in recent years, has ensured regional centres are more accessible and a railway network – funded by Australian aid – will further improve the current situation.

Despite an over-reliance upon international aid and clothing manufacture, the economic fortunes of the country are improving swiftly. Tourism is a substantial factor (Cambodia now welcomes more than 2.5 million tourists each year). National GDP grew by more than 6% per annum between 2010 and 2012.

Whilst Siem Reap is the most obvious illustration of the burgeoning tourist industry, Phnom Penh best highlights the changing dynamic in Cambodian society. A vibrant and energetic capital, it retains its French colonial heart, but a modern city is fast developing. As the wide range of high value cars travelling around the centre attest, a middle class with disposable income is emerging rapidly. The skyline is another barometer of wealth and Phnom Penh’s first skyscrapers are now nearing completion. Whilst no Ho Chi Minh City or Bangkok, the current rate of change is nonetheless impressive.

A further interesting trend is emerging. English language is king.

Despite its origin as a French protectorate, there is phenomenal interest amongst the country’s young population in English language courses. Stores across Phnom Penh brim full of books to support both guided courses and self-taught learning.

Indeed, English language testing centres are opening across the city, with the IDP’s Australian Centre of Education being the first but now certainly not the only place to formally learn the language. A course / test of English at roughly $200 can seem prohibitively expensive in a country where the average monthly wage is $50, but demand is high.

There has been a similar growth in interest and participation in tertiary education. Despite being low in comparison to other countries in the region, World Bank statistics demonstrate that enrolment rates in university and higher vocational education have increased from 3.4% of the cohort in 2005 to 14.5% in 2011. With private sector institutions accounting for a substantial percentage of higher education enrolments, the rise in participation is again indicative of the increasing wealth of the population.

In summary, there are significant and deep-seated structural problems in Cambodia, but signs a stronger economy is developing and – with it – a real interest amongst the young population to better themselves through education.

Paul Norris, March 2013

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13006539

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cb.html

http://hdrstats.undp.org/images/explanations/KHM.pdf

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001880/188018e.pdf

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.TER.ENRR/countries/1W-KH-8S-4E-Z4?display=graph

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324595904578120582308358540.html

http://www.ausaid.gov.au/Publications/Documents/cambodia-railway-rehabilitation-factsheet.pdf

http://dawn.com/2013/02/27/cambodian-silk-industry-on-its-last-threads/