When applying for entry clearance or leave to remain in the UK or British citizenship, you may need to prove your knowledge of the English language if you’re aged 18 or over.
There are various different ways to meet this requirement, including having a degree-level qualification that was taught or researched in English.
However, if you studied abroad, you will need to obtain confirmation that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s or master’s degree, or a PhD.
Below we look at how you can satisfy the English language requirement by providing proof of qualification comparability through UK ENIC. We also look at the ENIC requirements for PhD verification when looking to qualify for tradeable points under the Skilled Worker route.
What is ENIC?
Following the UK’s recent departure from the European Union, UK NARIC (the National Academic Recognition Information Centre) has now changed to UK ENIC (the European Network of Information Centres).
This is because the UK NARIC recognition agency function had to change from a NARIC to an ENIC in order to meet the UK’s continuing treaty obligations under the Lisbon Recognition Convention, the former being an EU-only title and the latter the wider European title for national recognition agencies.
As of 1 March 2021, UK ENIC is the new name of the national agency responsible for the comparison and recognition of international qualifications — and for providing official information on international training, education and skills acquired outside the UK — although this continues to be operated and managed by Ecctis Limited.
ENIC visa & nationality services
If you simply need a statement to evidence the level of your overseas qualification for employment, study or professional registration purposes, or for any reason other than an immigration application, you can apply for a “statement of comparability” through the ENIC website.
If, however, you need to evidence the level of your degree and/or your English language proficiency for a visa or settlement application, you’ll need to use the Visas and Nationality services at: www.ecctis.com/visasandnationality. These services are specifically provided on behalf of the UK Home Office, where the statements issued by Ecctis are designed to support immigration applications to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
There are 3 Visas and Nationality services available:
- Visas and Nationality (English proficiency): you can use this service if you would like to use your overseas Bachelor, Master’s or PhD degree(s) to demonstrate the level of your qualification and your English proficiency for a UK visa or settlement application.
- Visas and Nationality (PhD verification): you can use this service if you would like to use your overseas PhD to qualify for “tradeable” points under the Skilled Worker route.
- Visas and Nationality (PhD verification with English proficiency): you can use this service if you would like to use your overseas PhD to qualify for “tradeable” points when applying for a Skilled Worker visa, and demonstrate your English proficiency for a UK immigration application.
The Ecctis service you should use depends on what you need to evidence for your UKVI application. If you’ve obtained a degree from a UK university, you’ll only need your degree certificate when making an immigration application. If your qualification was awarded by an educational establishment outside the UK, you must provide a copy of your degree certificate, plus an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from Ecctis confirming the degree meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD in the UK.
If you have a degree from a non-majority English-speaking country, you’ll also need an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from Ecctis confirming that your overseas qualification was taught or researched in English at or above the required standard.
What requirements must be met?
All the current Visas and Nationality services provided by Ecctis are based on established methodology and evaluation criteria. This means your overseas qualification will be assessed using the same criteria previously adopted by UK NARIC.
You must make sure that you apply for the correct service, and check that you meet any eligibility requirements, before you submit and pay for your order.
Under the English proficiency service, Ecctis will only assess overseas qualifications which are considered comparable to a UK Bachelor or Master’s degree, or PhD, and were taught or researched solely in English. They will compare your university degree to the standard of Bachelor, Master’s or PhD in the UK and provide an AQUALS confirming your qualification is equivalent to a UK degree.
If your degree was not undertaken in a majority English-speaking country, Ecctis will also provide an ELPS to confirm the level of your language proficiency based on the qualification in question and in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The CEFR level required will depend on the nature of your immigration application.
Under either of the PhD verification services, Ecctis will only assess qualifications that are considered comparable to a PhD degree in the UK. They will compare your qualification and, where appropriate, provide an AQUALS confirming your PhD is comparable to the standard of a UK PhD. If you opt for the PhD verification with English proficiency service, where your PhD was not studied in a majority English-speaking country, Ecctis will also provide an ELPS to confirm the level of your language proficiency based on your qualification.
If your overseas PhD degree was not taught in English but instead you have either a Bachelor or Master’s degree that was taught in English, Ecctis may be able to provide the AQUALS and ELPS for your Bachelor or Master’s degree, provided that they meet the requirements of the service.
How do you apply for a visas and nationality statement?
You should apply online for any one of the Visas and Nationality services on the Ecctis website. Once you’ve created your online account you’ll be able to log in to upload your documents, contact Ecctis and make your payment. If you’ve previously applied for a UK NARIC service in the past, you can access your account using your existing login details.
In support of your Ecctis application, you’ll need to provide certain documentation depending on the nature of your request, including:
- A final certificate of your overseas qualification
- Official academic transcripts, also known as your mark sheets, setting out the subject’s studied and grades obtained for each semester in every year of study
- A certified translation of your document, if not in English
- A Medium of Instruction letter, if you need to evidence your English language proficiency, issued by the awarding institution to confirm the degree was taught and assessed in English.
A Medium of Instruction (MOI) letter confirms the language of instruction used throughout your degree programme. Ecctis cannot accept any reference to the language of instruction on your final certificate or transcripts, where confirmation of the language of instruction must be set out within a separate document. If you’re having difficulty obtaining an MOI letter from your institution during lockdown or otherwise due to COVID-19 restrictions, confirmation can instead be sent via email from the university which conferred your award, or the affiliate colleges of the university at which you studied. Ecctis may be able to consider confirmation from either the Head of Faculty, the Dean or the Administration team.
During the application process, you may also be asked to complete and sign a Letter of Authorisation. This will allow Ecctis to contact your institution to verify your degree.
You’ll need to upload an electronic scan of your documents. Once Ecctis are in receipt of all the relevant documentation, an assessment of your overseas qualification will be undertaken and the relevant statement will be issued.
How much will an application cost?
When applying for a Visas and Nationality statement, you will be required to pay a fee. This fee is in addition to any UKVI fee when applying for a visa, settlement or naturalisation.
For the English proficiency service, the cost is £140 (+ VAT). For either of the PhD verification services, the cost is £210 (+ VAT). Ecctis statements are also only issued in paper format and by post, not electronically, so there will be an additional cost for postage.
When you apply, you should choose a UK or international delivery option which meets your needs. However, many international deliveries are taking longer than usual due to COVID-19 restrictions. For delivery to an overseas address, especially if you have an urgent deadline, it’s recommended by Ecctis that you use the courier service at a cost of £80.
How long will my Visas and Nationality statement take?
The time it will take to receive your Visas and Nationality statement will depend on which of the three services you have used.
For the English proficiency service, once Ecctis have received all required documents and payment, they should complete your assessment within 10 working days. For either of the PhD verification services, once Ecctis have received all of the necessary documents and payment, they should complete your assessment within 30 working days.
However, due to COVID-19, many delivery services are experiencing delays, especially if delivery is to an overseas address. The International signed for service uses both domestic and international mail services, so you should allow a little longer than usual for deliveries via this method. Should you require your documents more urgently, consideration should be given to the courier option.
If you’re unsure about the status of your application or any action required, you will need to log in to your online account and check the “order status”. Alternatively, you can get in touch with Ecctis directly via the ‘Messages’ section within your online account.
Can I fast track my application?
When using the English proficiency service, you should be able to use the 24 or 48 hour Fast Track service provided by Ecctis. Once you have chosen this service, you can add the Fast Track service to your application online by simply selecting either Fast Track 24 or 48 hours.
The 24/48 hour time periods do not include delivery time and do not apply to weekends or public and bank holidays. Fast Track prices are also paid in addition to the standard service price, although the cost of postage is included. The cost of the 24 hour service is £174 (+ VAT), and the cost of the 48 hour service is £124.00 (+ VAT).
If you have a UK delivery address, your statement(s) will be sent via Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed. This guarantees delivery before 1pm the next working day. If your delivery address is overseas, your assessment will be sent by Royal Mail International signed for, unless you select courier delivery at an additional cost of £80.00. The courier service will take between 1 to 6 working days.
DavidsonMorris are specialist UK immigration lawyers. We provide specialist advice and support to employers, migrant workers and individuals with all aspects of UK immigration applications, including guidance on process and eligibility requirements in areas such as English language requirements. For specialist advice, speak to us.
How much does UK NARIC cost?
The cost of using one of the services provided by UK NARIC, now known as UK ENIC, will depend on what type of statement you’re looking to obtain.
How can I validate my degree in UK?
You can validate your degree by applying for a statement from UK ENIC (formerly UK NARIC), or through Ecctis Ltd, the company that operates and manages UK ENIC, confirming that your overseas qualification is equivalent to the relevant UK standard.
How long is UK NARIC valid for?
A statement issued by UK NARIC, now known as UK ENIC, will be valid indefinitely. Once you have paid for and obtained your qualification comparability statement you will not need to apply for another one, unless you need a replacement.
Is NARIC recognised in UK?
As from 1 March 2021, following the UK’s departure from the European Union, UK ENIC is the new name for UK NARIC, the national agency responsible for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications based on UK standards.
Last updated: 7 May 2021