Focus on Immigration – English Language

Update March 2021 – the English Language Assessment service discussed in this blog post is no longer available. If you need to evidence your English language proficiency for UK Home Office visa or settlement purposes, then a suitable service would be our Visas and Nationality service.

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.

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  20. Hi there

    From October 28, 2013 UKBA is introducing new requirement for settlement application, which is (1) to pass life in the UK test and (2) to demonstrate proficiency of English language at level B1 CEFR or higher. Please advise if a certificate from NARIC for English Language (ELA)Assessment workable in this case. If it is acceptable by UKBA then I will apply for ELA for my wife who has earned a bachelors degree in engineering from one of the egineering universities in Pakistan.

    Many thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,

    1. The UK NARIC English Language Assessment was devised to help provide an indication of English language proficiency for Tiers 1 and 2 of the PBS. We have spoken to the UK Home Office about whether it could be used to support an application for settlement and naturalisation in the UK and we are awaiting a reply.

      We would therefore advise you to check with the Home Office directly (

      When we have received an update from the Home office we will publish this information.

  21. Please can you kindly email me on how many GCSEs is NVQ level 1 and 2 in Business Administration (secretarial) equivalent to and send me a chart.

    Many thanks!


    1. Dear Leena,

      Thank you for your post,

      Unfortunately, it isn’t with UK NARIC’s remit to compare UK qualifications to alternate parts of its educational framework. We can however provide the contact information for Ofqual who regulate the UK’s education framework and should be able to provide you with further advice on this type of enquiry.


      0300 303 3346

      Best of luck with your enquiry.

  22. Dear UK Naric,

    My wife has got a degree – Master of Commerce and it’s taught in English Medium from Gujarat University, India. I was about to apply for English Language Assessment from UKNaric website and noticed that it does the assessment only at CEFR C1 Level where as previously few months back that wasn’t the case.

    Now, I am not sure whether my wife’s above mentioned degree meets assessment criteria or not as required by UK Naric for CEFT C1 level. Can you please advise whether I should apply for her English Language Assessment through UK Naric as I don’t want to end up in a situation where I apply for English Langaure Assessment and UK Naric tells me that it doesn’t meet the assessment criteria.

    I await your response to the above.

    Kind regards,
    Viral Seth.

    1. Dear Vishal,

      Thank you for your post,

      The “English Language Assessment” UK NARIC offer is only available for overseas qualifications that is comparable to a UK Bachelors level award, as such the Masters award may be of too high a level for UK NARIC to complete this service.

      If your wife has also completed a Bachelors studied in English as well, we could investigate whether the or not it meets a C1 level of English Proficiency in the common European framework. UK NARIC is unable to determine whether an award will meet a C1 level without further investigation, as such the service is not guaranteed to meet this level and does contain an element of risk.

      I hope this clarifies the situation.

  23. Hi,

    I received my english language assessment letter from NARIC today.
    “It states that my degree course does not meet the requirement for CEFR level C1. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that holders of my degree would meet lower CEFR level descriptors, up to and including CEFR B1.”

    Does that mean that this letter confirm that my degree meet the requirement for CEFR B1 or do I have to apply for another letter for NARIC for CEFR B1.

    Many thanks,

    1. Hi Amara,

      The English Language Assessment is done specifically pass or fail against C1, which is why this has to be included in the statement but the additional commentary indicates that it would meet the requirements of the lower level of B1.

      You would not need to apply for another service through UK NARIC to obtain evidence that it meets a B1 level.

      I hope this clarifies the issue for you.

  24. I’m Spanish and would like to apply for British Citizenship. I studied AAT NVQ4 in the Uk a few years back (I have been living here for 18 years now). Will this NVQ be proof that I meet the B1 requirements for knowledge of English, please? Thank you.

    1. Hi Cononia,

      Unfortunately we aren’t directly involved with the Home Office and their application process, so we would be unable to comment. As this is a UK award it would be worth clarifying with them directly whether or not this can be accepted as meeting the required level.

      Kind regards

      UK NARIC

  25. As an Italian working away from my country I really know how important is to know English.
    Most of the people coming from Italy doesn’t really know or want to know extra languages, even if those are taught at high school. Scholastic English is really not enough to understand what someone from another country says in English; it’s simple not enough to understand a simple cartoon.
    Italian should really try to learn better English and start become part of the rest of the world.

  26. To whom it may concern,
    I am applying for an English Language Assessment document to certify my English level due to my application for a spouse visa. While I was filling the form, I saw the “duration of award (months)”. I am not too sure, what does this mean? The duration of my study was 5 years. In terms of the duration of award in months means that how many months that I was going to school in these 5 years?
    Kind regards,
    Ayse M.

    1. Hi Ayse,

      Apologies for the confusion, this is seeking the number of years the course of study lasted. It would not be necessary to enter the number of months of study for a course which lasted 5 years.

      1. This is still confusing, as the online form asks for the duration in years “and” months. I think it would be a lot easier for applicants to understand if it was rephrased to ask for years “or” months.

      2. Dear Elaine,

        Thank you for your comment.

        Duration in months is for courses taken that may be under a year in duration. For example a 6 month course.

        Please be aware Duration of Study is not listed on the final document and so you do not need to worry about the accuracy of this question.

        Your Transcript document will confirm to the specialists the duration of your study.

        I hope this information is of assistance to you.

        Kind regards,
        UK NARIC

  27. Hi, My name is Deodatus. I want to extent my 2.5yrs visa as parent, when I was fill my application form. There is section which talk about English language, they said I have to hold degree or to do English test but I hold Edexcel National Diploma certificate from LEEDS COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY. I suppose to submit my application before 02/01/2016. I want to find out if I will qualify for that because is the same certificate I used when I applying my first visa

    1. Thanks for your message although we offer services that can assist with visa’s & naturalisation we are not directly involved in this process and are unable to comment on the Home offices’s requirements. Please see the Home Office website ( for more details.

  28. Hello, I’m going to apply for the spouse visa (settlement). At first I saw the information on prices at the, but in the Naric UK visa and nationality service I’m not able to find any clear information about the translation waiver that the first site I mentioned provides. My documents are in Spanish, and some are in English, so I’m interested in paying the waiver. Will I be able to do so in the Naric UK visa and nationality service?? Thanks in advance.

    1. Dear Kyaraathena
      Thank you for your comment.

      For certain languages (please see for a list of languages and the cost of this service), the translation waiver service removes the additional time and expense of acquiring a translation from a third party and enables us to process an application without the usual requirement of a certified translation. This service is only available for the Statement of Comparability.

      A Statement of Comparability will provide a comparability of your overseas qualifications to the level in which they sit on the UK Framework. It does NOT comment on English Language proficiency, we have a separate service that provides this information called the English Language Assessment. However, the Translation Waiver Service is not available for the English Language Assessment or for the Visas & Nationality services.

      Whilst we would recommend the Visa and Nationality route, you are still able to use the work and study route and order the Statement of Comparability and English Language Assessment. It is to our understanding there will be a grace period where the Home office will still be accepting these assessments, however you may wish to contact the Home Office directly for further clarity.

      I hope this is of assistance.

      Kind regards,
      UK NARIC

  29. Hi,

    I got a postdoctoral position in University College London. I am in need of tyre-2 General visa for this position. As per the guidelines of visa application English knowledge requirement statement is as given below.

    “having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognized by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD”

    I think “Statement of Comparability” is sufficient for me to get this issue resolved. I would be grateful if you could suggest on this issue.


    1. Dear Sadanandam,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Please be advised UK NARIC Visas and Nationality is the new designated service supporting individuals applying for UK visas or for settlement in the UK, provided on behalf of the Home Office, United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

      This new online application system has been specifically developed and will provide official UK NARIC Visas and Nationality 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 regarding your qualification(s)(about your qualifications, country of study etc) required by UKVI immigration case workers.

      We recommend that you check with the Home Office UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) if you need a statement from UK NARIC for your particular immigration application and your particular situation (and if any additional paperwork or evidence is necessary). UKVI (and not UK NARIC) has the final word on all these matters.

      I hope this is of assistance.

      Kind regards,
      UK NARIC

  30. hello i am trying to apply a spouse visa for my wife, she has a BA translation degree in hong kong, and certificate is in english.

    which type of service i should use? would it be statement of comparbility? visa and immgration? or the english language test one? i am very confused.

    1. Hi Anthony,
      Thank you for the message.
      The Visas and Nationality Service costs £125 + VAT (£150) and is a 10 Working Day turnaround. These statements confirm your Academic Qualification Level (AQLS) and/or English Language Proficiency (ELPS) – as appropriate for your personal circumstances and immigration route. Please visit our website and Take the Red Route for Visas and Nationality to apply for this service.
      UK NARIC

  31. Hi!
    I’m applying for UK spouse Visa. I have a 2 years HND from an institute in Pakistan and then I have a 3 years honours degree from Heriot Watt university Dubai. I just wanted to ask if I need medium of instruction letter for both of these qualification as both of them are UK based but also offered in other countries.

    1. Hi Mehak,
      Thank you for the post.
      UK NARIC offer a Visas and Nationality Service which costs £125 + VAT (£150) and is a 10 Working Day turnaround. These statements confirm your Academic Qualification Level (AQLS) and/or English Language Proficiency (ELPS) – as appropriate for your personal circumstances and immigration route.
      To meet the requirements for UK NARIC to be able to provide an English Language Assessment you must hold a degree of Bachelors, Masters or Phd level, which has been awarded by an overseas institution that was solely taught in the medium of English. (Qualifications awarded by UK universities would not require this service).
      We will require the following documents for each of the qualifications you would like to be included:
      •Final Certificate
      •Full Academic Transcripts / Mark Sheets for each year of study
      •A Medium of Instruction Letter from the Awarding Institution confirming it was taught solely in English – Only required if the qualification is from a non-majority English speaking country as set out by the Home Office.
      Please visit our website and Take the Red Route for Visas and Nationality to apply for this service.
      UK NARIC

      1. Thankyou for your reply 🙂
        I see you mentioned that the qualifications awarded by UK universities would not require a NARIC certificate. Does this apply to Higher National Diploma as well? Being it a UK diploma but taught in a Pakistani institute?

  32. Hello UK Naric

    I want to apply for a position as a T.A. in a School in the UK. They are asking for GCSE in maths and English, I have a Degree in English Language from a Mexican university, my certificate is in spanish, at the moment I’m a bit confuse about what do I need to do.

    which type of service I should use? Thanks in Advance.

    1. Hi Dominic,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Unfortunately we are unable to comment on qualifications or institutions via our social media accounts. If you would like to discuss the comparability of your awards you can call us on (0044) (0)871 330 7033, Monday to Friday (between 9:00am and 5:00pm), to speak to an Information Adviser and they will be happy to discuss this with you further.
      If you are looking to enter into teaching you may wish to contact the National College for Teaching and Leadership who can advise you of the ways and requirements for entry into this profession.
      Kind Regards,
      UK NARIC

  33. Qualifications: BE Bachelors in computer technology
    plus diploma in computer technology (full medium of instruction is english )
    I have given IELTS with score 6.5 CEFR LEVEL B2
    I have acceleration of evaluation of educational qualification from WES Canada. do i need to apply for UK NARIC ?
    do I need MOI letter for Diploma Certificate as well? If yes for diploma then sorry, due to COVID-19 i cannot get it done online (as no online service is available as I am in the UK) ,

    please guide
    Namrata Bedare
    +44 07423324340

    1. Hi Namrata,
      Thank you for your comment.

      The article you have commented on was published in 2012.

      We now recommend that if you are looking to show evidence of English Language Knowledge to the Home Office/UKVI that you look into our Visa and Nationality service. This was released in 2016 and is based on the updated requirements of the Home Office as mentioned in this post (

      The WES evaluation you have mentioned is comparing the award you have achieved to the Canadian education frame. We would not be able to provide an assessment based on this and would instead require the Final Certificate, Academic Transcript and Medium of Instruction letter from the university you have achieved the qualification from. To allow UK NARIC to comment on English Language Proficiency based on an academic qualification from overseas we would usually require the Medium of Instruction letter, we are aware that some institutions are able to send a digital copy of this by email or other formats during COVID-19. If this is unable to be provided at this time we will need to wait until the institution can issue this.

      You have also mentioned an IELTS test which may mean that you do not require any further documentation from UK NARIC if this is still valid.

      As we are a separate organisation from the Home Office we are unable to advise on requirements for the visa application process. We recommend you contact the Home Office directly for more information. Their website is

      I hope this helps.
      UK NARIC

      1. Hi Namrata,
        Thank you for your comment.
        I am not able to access the mailboxes or ongoing applications for this. If you would like to discuss your application you can send a message through the User Portal to speak with a Customer Adviser.
        I hope this helps.
        UK NARIC

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