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.


Jump in traffic to UK NARIC’s Visas & Nationality service following Brexit vote


Following the ‘Brexit’ result in the EU referendum, there has been an increase of over 60% in web traffic to UK NARIC’s Visas & Nationality service.

The Visas & Nationality service supports applications through the points based system of immigration and for migrants wishing to settle in the UK. 

In the week following the vote, numbers of visitors to the Visas & Nationality web pages leapt to over 1.6 times the pre-referendum average. 

UK-based visitors to the V&N web pages doubled. Migrants who are already living in the UK can apply for extensions to their current visa, or apply for settlement, citizenship or naturalisation. Visitor numbers from other EU countries were up over a third. 

This could reflect some of the uncertainties on EU mobility and free movement post-referendum, and may mean we can expect applications from EU citizens seeking to settle in the UK.  

We will soon see if web traffic and interest translates into actual applications. 

So far, since the launch of the Visas & Nationality service on 6 April (it replaces the old online Points Based Calculator), only 4% of applications for purposes of settlement, citizenship and naturalisation have come from nationals of other EU countries. If any changes in this pattern do emerge, it should be immediately noticeable.

 

 

 


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.

 


Immigration Update – April 2014


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


Update on Application Trends


The trends highlighted by UK NARIC last year seem to be continuing.

The latest figures from UK NARIC and UK NCP confirm that the trend for increased mobility of citizens from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece and that the UK is experiencing an increase in the number of people expressing an interest in coming to the UK to work, practice or study.

UK NARIC Assessments
Country 2009 assmts 2009 rank 2010 assmts 2010 rank 2011 assmts 2011 rank 2012 assmts 2012 rank
Greece 118 46th 148 42nd 146 41st 305 29th
Italy 539 17th 593 18th 647 14th 785 11th
Portugal 210 36th 192 35th 225 34th 361 24th
Spain 541 16th 683 16th 766 12th 1305 6th
UK NCP Enquiries
Country 2009 enqs % of total 2010 enqs % of total 2011 enqs % of total 2012 enqs % of total
Greece  NA  NA 17 3.1% 8 2.9% 36 4.0%
Italy  NA  NA 42 8.6% 46 7.8% 82 10.0%
Portugal  NA  NA 15 3.5% 17 1.4% 33 4.4%
Spain  NA  NA 50 10.2% 81 13.7% 200 24.5%

Figures for 2009 for UK NCP are unavailable.

The data from UK NARIC and UK NCP show that there have been significant increases in assessments and enquiries:

Increases
Country UK NARIC% change2009 – 12 UK NCP% change2010 – 12
Greece + 158% + 112%
Italy + 45% + 95%
Portugal + 72% + 120%
Spain + 141% + 300%

The increases experienced by these countries far outstrips the performance of any other countries in the region.

Based on figures from 2009, 2010 and 2011 we have been able to model the demand for UK NARIC assessments in 2013.  The figures below are based on real application figures for the first quarter of 2013:

UK NARIC Assessments
Country Jan 2013 Feb 2013 Mar 2013 Total 2013 Total Projected 2013 Projected v 2012 Real
Greece 37 21 29 87 320 105%
Italy 102 84 95 281 1033 132%
Portugal 27 55 52 134 493 137%
Spain 157 138 191 486 1787 137%

Conclusions

Data from UK NARIC and UK NCP shows that there has been a considerable increase in the number of assessments and enquiries from Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.  While this data does not definitely mean that the individuals submitting these requests do actually come to the UK to work, study or practice, there is a definite link between them.

The increases from Spain and Greece have been particularly noticeable and these may well be linked to the economic difficulties that these countries have been experiencing.

Whatever the reason, it does mean that employers, universities, colleges and professional bodies have a wider pool of highly qualified and highly talented individuals available to choose from.

 

Tim Buttress, June 2013