Under the Immigration Rules, individuals needing to prove their English language ability as part of a visa application must either:
- be a national of a majority English speaking country, as recognised by the Home Office (i.e. Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago or the United States of America); or
- have passed an approved English language test; or
- have been awarded a degree (equivalent, at least, to a UK Bachelor’s degree) that was taught in English.
We reported last month that the Home Office’s online Points Based Calculator tool, most commonly used historically to confirm that a migrant’s academic qualification obtained overseas in a non-majority English speaking country was deemed to meet the English language requirements, was to be switched off at midnight on 5 April 2016. Now, applicants seeking to rely on such a qualification must obtain a certificate from UK NARIC (known as a ‘blue certificate’) to confirm this at a cost of £55.20 inclusive of VAT.
However, blue certificates will shortly (date to be confirmed) no longer be acceptable either. Instead applicants will need to obtain a ‘red certificate’ which has enhanced security features but is more than double the cost, at £125 plus VAT. Under the new requirements, applicants relying on their academic qualification and a red certificate from UK NARIC will now also need to obtain an official letter from their university bearing their name and degree, together with confirmation that it was taught in English. Bearing this in mind, it may prove quicker, easier and more cost effective for the migrant to take an approved English language test.
It should be emphasised that the above requirements only apply to migrants whose degrees were obtained in non-majority English speaking countries or Canada. It remains the case that where an applicant obtained their degree in a majority English speaking country (other than Canada), their degree certificate will suffice on its own and they do not have to obtain a separate UK NARIC certificate or letter from their university.