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.
While a passport or original test pass certificate are sufficient to evidence compliance with points 1 or 2 above, the Home Office’s online Points Based Calculator has most commonly been used historically to confirm that an academic qualification obtained overseas is deemed to meet the academic and English language requirements. However, the Home Office has recently announced that the Points Based Calculator will be switched off at midnight on 5 April 2016.
This means that those applicants submitting immigration applications on or after 6 April 2016 who are required to meet the English language requirements and hoping to rely on an overseas academic qualification must now obtain a statement of equivalence from UK National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) http://www.naric.org.uk/NARIC/individuals/.
Whereas the points based calculator was a free service that took a few minutes to complete, a standard NARIC English language assessment takes 10 - 15 working days to be processed and costs £55.20 per assessment. NARIC does offer fast track services with the fastest turnaround time being 24 hours, but these come at an additional cost. Further, if the applicant’s degree certificate is not in English, it will need to be translated into English by an official translator before NARIC will perform its assessment of the qualification.
Individuals and employers will need to factor in these additional costs and potential time delays when considering bringing a non-EEA national to the UK to work.