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
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.

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

To work or to study? That is the question.

The UK has long been one of the top destinations to come and study; it is also a very attractive place to work. If you’re thinking of coming to the UK, which is the best option?

The latest figures from UK BA show that between April and December 2011 just over 7,300 migrants were granted a Certificate of Sponsorship through Tier 2 (there are more than 11,000 Certificates of Sponsorship available between now and March 2012!).

Similarly, UCAS have just released figures showing that over 77,000 students from outside the UK have applied for undergraduate courses starting in 2012.  This includes a 13.7% increase in non-EU applicants compared to last year.

So, the UK is still very much seen as a place to work or study.

Working in the UK

As highlighted in our previous blog on Tier 2 and Post Study Work, the UK is a great place to work.  The main reasons are that it will look great on a CV not least because the experiences you’ll gain through working in one of the biggest and most diverse economies in the world.

The skills that employers are looking for fall into four broad areas: self-reliance skills, people skills, general employment skills and specialist skills. Obtaining these skills and using them effectively are the key to being able to get the job you want.  But how can you do this?

Well, the first thing to do is get a job!  There are all sorts of job websites out there and they all have their own particular niche or unique selling point.  We are not in a position to suggest which one is the best, but one thing for certain is that employers use qualifications to determine the skill levels of individuals.  A statement of comparability can help make sure that employers in the UK understand the level of a qualification if it has been awarded outside the UK.

Demonstrating that you have the skills that employers are looking for is difficult, but using the Europass portfolio can help.  Europass is a set of documents that are used across the EU to help individuals highlight their skills, competencies and experience; and what’s more it’s free!!

If you’re from outside the UK and you want to come to work here you’ll have to apply through the Points Based System (see our previous blog to find out more).

Whether you are from inside or outside the EU, being able to use English language is also very important if you want to work in the UK.  Again, we can help you show employers that you are skilled in English.

So, why come to the UK?  It will look great on your CV, you’ll get excellent experience, there are plenty of great employers out there, you’ll improve your English, you’ll earn a comparatively high wage and you’ll benefit from a tolerant multi-cultural society.  In short, it’s a fantastic place to improve your career!

Studying in the UK

The UK is a brilliant place to study.

Some figures:

This demonstrates that the UK is a great place to study!

The UK offers a great deal for international students.  Alongside the above, the UK can also offer the following:

Worldwide recognition

Qualifications from UK higher education institutions are recognised and respected throughout the world.  The standard of excellence within the UK higher education sector is very well established meaning that the qualifications awarded are amongst the most highly regarded qualifications available.

Receive a quality education

UK higher education is synonymous with quality.  Each UK HEI is responsible for the quality of its programmes, but they are subject to independent audits carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).  The QAA ensures that UK institutions are providing awards and qualifications of an appropriate quality and academic standard.

Great career prospects

All UK Bachelor level qualifications should be awarded with a Diploma Supplement.  This is a document that outlines the details of the course studied and the institution.  It covers the course content, type of study, modules covered and skills required to complete the programme. In addition it contextualises the qualification in relation to the national education system. It is particularly useful when continuing with studies or applying for a job.

Finally, the multi-cultural society of the UK and being a gateway to Europe (for those outside of Europe!) also mean that the UK stands out as a destination to further your study.

If you are from outside the EU then you’ll need to apply through Tier 4 of the PBS.  A statement of comparability will also help admissions staff understand more about your qualifications.


Tim Buttress, February 2012



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

Focus on Immigration – English Language

Note that since this article was 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. 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.

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.


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 a majority English Language Speaking country they automatically meet the English language requirements.  Please check the Home Office website for an up-to-date list of the countries.*

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

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