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


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


Application Trends – English Speaking Africa


The 2009 figures from UNESCO showed that there were 3.3 million outwardly mobile students across the world.

The regions with the largest number of mobile students are East Asia and the Pacific, North America and Western Europe, while the regions with the lowest number of mobile students are Latin America and the Caribbean, the Arab States and Sub-Saharan Africa. For each of these six regions, North America and Western Europe are the top destinations. Taking a closer look at the UNESCO figures for English speaking African countries, the UK is second most popular destination; South Africa being the first.

In terms of UK NARIC assessments, the region as a whole also accounts for around 10% of the total number undertaken every year. The number of assessments we have undertaken for applicants from these countries (plus the overall ranking) over the past four years highlights some interesting points:

Country 2008
assmts
2008
rank
2009
assmts
2009
rank
2010
assmts
2010
rank
2011
assmts
2011
rank
Botswana 25 97th 11 112th 9 123rd
Cameroon 126 42nd 154 39th 105 43rd 140 42nd
Gambia 7 125th 10 120th
Ghana 591 17th 534 18th 480 17th 250 17th
Kenya 142 40th 161 38th 126 39th 120 145th
Liberia 1 168th 5 141st
Malawi 15 108th 11 112th 9 123rd
Namibia 3 143rd 7 135th
Nigeria 1680 6th 1587 7th 1295 6th 1469 5th
Sierra Leone 52 63rd 52 69th 35 78th 28 92nd
South Africa 2109 5th 1987 4th 1374 5th 1220 8th
Tanzania 26 85th 28 94th 21 95th 30 88th
Uganda 103 46th 123 45th 94 45th 148 40th
Zambia 50 67th 84 52nd 52 56th 47 70th
Zimbabwe 440 20th 443 20th 242 27th 265 30th
Total 5319 5193 3857 3757

The total number of assessments has fallen by nearly 30% over the past four years (5319 in 2008 and 3757 in 2011). In terms of individual assessments, both Nigeria and South Africa have been in the top ten for the whole period. However, whilst numbers from Nigeria have held relatively steady, those from South Africa have declined by nearly 50% in these four years.

It is nonetheless still the case that these two countries account for around 71% of all applications made from this region.

Qualification level of migrants

The table below shows the breakdown of the level of South African and Nigerian qualifications submitted during 2011:

Nigeria South Africa
Qualification level Examples % Examples %
Below Level 3 on the UK Qualifications Framework (QCF) Senior School Certificate, The West African Senior School Certificate, Nigeria Certificate of Education, Advanced Certificate in Secretarial Studies 34% N2 Engineering Studies, N3 Certificate in Engineering Drawing, National Certificate : Business Management 38%
A level and Sub-Degree Equivalents (QCF Levels 3, 4 and 5) Registered Nurse, Diploma in Computer Education, Higher National Diploma in Electrical Electronics 17% National Certificate N5 in Business Management, National Diploma in Industrial Engineering 14%
British Bachelor level Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) (1990) 42% Bachelor of Arts, Baccalaureus Legum 40%
Postgraduate Postgraduate Diploma in Education, Master of Science in Mathematics, Doctor of Philosophy 8% Post Graduate Certificate in Education, Bachelor of Veterinary Science, Master of Education, Philosophiae Doctor (Chemistry) 7%

The spread of qualifications from these countries is very interesting; nearly half are above Bachelor level, but a considerable proportion are below Level 3 on the UK QCF, in contrast to the overall average.

Tim Buttress, February 2013


What is a Statement of Comparability?


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.

 

 

Since the introduction of the UK NARIC blog in November 2011, the most popular article we have written is ‘How a UK NARIC Statement of Comparability can help’ . Following on from the popularity of the article, here at UK NARIC we thought it a good idea to expand on the points made and further explain what a Statement of Comparability is, what is can do, how it can help; and perhaps equally importantly, what it is not and cannot do.

What is a Statement of Comparability?

Let’s start at the beginning – the purpose of the Statement of Comparability. The idea is that an individual from overseas comes (or is interested in coming) to the UK to study, gain employment or migrate. In order to do this, they need to prove to the admitting institution / potential employer / UK Border Agency* that they have a certain level of education or expertise. However, understanding the level of the qualifications the individual holds and what they can bring to the table is often the first stumbling block: here at UK NARIC, we can provide an assessment and compare the overseas award to a suitable and fair level within the UK national qualification framework. This will then allow the admitting institution / potential employer / UK Border Agency to understand, in more familiar terms, how the award compares to a UK level of education. The document we provide that contains this comparability, together with details of the awarding body, year of completion and title of award, is the Statement of Comparability.

Is UK NARIC’s decision final?

The comparability itself is merely our expert opinion derived from our considerable knowledge and experience which has been developed in close co-operation with universities in the UK as well as other NARICs and relevant authorities. It is not, as is often mistaken, a legally binding decision. A Statement provides details of the professional rights the qualification confers in the country of origin and forms the first stage in a two-stage process of professional recognition. Professional recognition in the UK is conducted by competent authorities such as the Teaching Agency and the Engineering Council.

Can UK NARIC provide a translation?

Usually, in order for UK NARIC to provide a Statement of Comparability, we request both the original language documents as well as certified translations. However, for certain languages, we can offer our Translation Waiver Service (TWS). The purpose of this service is to allow individuals to send solely the original language documents, thus removing the additional time and expense of certified translations. The full list of languages that are covered under the TWS can be found on the UK NARIC website. It is really important to clarify that the TWS is NOT a translation service – the idea is purely to save individuals time and money by allowing them to send their awards in the original language only.

Does the Statement of Comparability expire?

Another question we are regularly asked is whether the Statement of Comparability has an expiry date. The answer to this is no – it does not! However, as our information is reviewed on a rolling basis, it is possible that an assessment may change over time: new information or evidence may come to light that means we have to review a certain award or even an entire education system. The assessments provided are as accurate as possible, but are based on data available at the time of assessment only.

More information about a Statement of Comparability can be found on the UK NARIC website.

October 2012

 

 

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


How to spot fraudulent education documents and fake degrees


The production of fraudulent documents, or fake degrees and diplomas, has been going on since antiquity, but it is only in the last ten to fifteen years that educational fraud or ‘fake qualifications’ have really become a worldwide problem.  There are two principal reasons for this: firstly, academic qualifications have gained increasing commercial value.

Educational achievement and the accompanying evidence are now used to attempt to ensure safe passage through immigration, promotion and access to employment, as well as a legitimate bargaining tool for better pay or greater professional recognition.  The cases of Gene Morrison and Stein Bagger demonstrates the lengths individual will go to in order to achieve such recognition.  It is, therefore, not surprising that educational fraud or fake qualifications have become a marketable commodity in their own right, irrespective of whether they have been earned or not.

Secondly, modern technology and the rise of the internet have undoubtedly contributed to the wide-spread trend of educational fraud and fake degrees.

There are a number of ways in which universities, college and employers can weed out these fake qualifications.  The first and most important thing to check is whether the institution is legitimate and not a diploma mill.  The easiest way to do this to check whether the education provider is listed on UK NARIC’s online database.

There are also a number of “red flags” to look out for when considering education documents:

Lack of official stamps / official seals

Degree certificates come with official seals or stamps.  These may be embossed, stamped or raised seals.

Paper quality

What is the paper quality of the certificate?  Are there any security features?

A variety of fonts used

The majority of degree certificates do not use more than three or four font styles.

Alignment

Degree certificates are generally aligned down the centre of the page.  ‘Cut and paste’ techniques on documents often make mistakes in the alignment.

Handwriting

If there is hand-writing on a certificate there should generally be no more than one style of handwriting.  Also, there should be no alternations or corrections on the document.

Scanned signatures

Scanned signatures have often been taken from websites or scanned from other documents.  The signatures will be pixelated. On genuine documents this will not be the case.

Informal or inaccurate language

The language used on degree transcripts is often very formal.  Read the text carefully and ensure that it makes sense and that the correct grammar has been used.

Awarding bodies

Can the institution in question award that given qualification?  Is the institution accredited?

These “red flags” are only a starting point.  It takes a lot of experience and research to be able to identify bogus or fake degree; the above are just some of the elements used to spot fake qualifications.

“We have seen a significant increase in the number members asking us to check whether certificates are genuine,” commented Ian Bassett, Commercial Director, UK NARIC / ECCTIS Ltd, “additionally our training courses and the Degree of Deception publication also help ensure that there are ways of combating this threat.”

Tim Buttress, August 2012

 

An updated article on education fraud has been published https://uknaric.org/2015/06/19/fraud-a-growing-problem-in-education-and-how-to-guard-against-it/.


Immigration Update: Summary of Changes to Tier 4


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.

 

 

 

As of the start of April 2012 there have been some changes that have come into force for Tier 4 of the Points Based System for immigration to the UK.

In previous blogs we have covered the requirements for Tier 4 and English Language and below are the most recent changes:

  • Mandatory highly trusted sponsor status  and Educational Oversight
  • Interim limits on international student numbers for some sponsors
  • New HTS criteria and strict threshold for academic progression
  • Work rights during and following study
  • Ability to bring dependants for some international students
  • Limit on time spent in the UK studying below degree level (3 years) and at degree level (5 years)
  • Increased profiling based on nationality
  • English language competency – introduction of SELT, interviews by immigration officers
  • Maintenance – Blacklisted financial institutions and accommodation fees restrictions
  • New provisions for partner institutions, branches and campuses

It is important that those wishing to come to the UK to work or study know about the latest developments in the immigration system.  For more information about the Tier 2 (Skilled Workers), please visit the relevant section of the UK BA site.  If you wish to come to the UK to study, make sure you are up-to-date with the student immigration route.

 

Tim Buttress, June 2012

 

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


Are Africa and Middle East the new areas of growth for UK?


Latest figures from UK NARIC (2011 vs. 2010) highlight that there has been a reduction in the usage of service related to Southern Asia , while there has been an increase for Africa and the Middle East.

Using data on page views of UK NARIC online databases, enquiries from members and individual assessments, a noticeable drop in numbers from South Asian countries has been identified.  This region has seen a drop in all three areas while Africa and the Middle East have experienced increases.

Other significant changes include a large increase in the proportion of individual assessments from the EU, while the other regions have remained steady.

“These are really interesting statistics,” commented Tim Buttress, Deputy Director, Policy and Communication, “we’re looking to illustrate in more depth how our customers are using our products and we can use this information to see where any changes are occurring.  We’ve seen a small overall reduction in the number of individuals using our service, but that is to be expected with the immigration changes.  On the other hand, our databases are being used more heavily and members are also submitting more enquiries.”

“Southern Asia has traditionally been a central market for us and we still receive a lot of enquiries from this region, but in 2011 we did notice a slight downturn in numbers.  Africa and the Middle East exhibited steady growth across all areas of our service, while on the individual assessment side applications from the EU grew significantly, in fact they are now comparable with the number we receive from Southern Asia.”

If you would like more information about the information included in this blog, please get in touch!

 

Tim Buttress, March 2012