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Changes to English language certification requirements for visas

Transitional arrangements are in place to ensure that applicants who have not yet applied for a visa are not unduly affected by this change.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Edinburgh University.
Edinburgh University.

Education Testing Services (ETS) BV’s licence to carry out secure English language tests for immigration and nationality purposes recently came to an end and has not been extended. ETS administered the TOEFL and TOEIC tests, and therefore these will not be accepted for visa purposes. Short transitional arrangements are in place to ensure that genuine applicants who have not yet applied for a visa are not unduly affected by this change.

Those who are overseas can make a visa application relying on an ETS certificate as long as the visa application is made and the visa fee is paid before 22 July 2014.

Those who are overseas and seeking to study in one of the following categories can make a visa application relying on an ETS certificate as long as the visa application is made and the visa fee is paid before 1 October 2014:

  1. a pre-sessional course lasting no longer than 3 months;
  2. a foundation course awarded at a minimum of level 3 on the revised National Qualifications Framework, or equivalent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; or
  3. a foundation degree, at a UK Recognised Body or a body in receipt of public funding as a Higher Education Institution.

After these dates, visa applications relying on an ETS certificate will not be accepted.

This change does not affect Higher Education Institutions’ ability to choose their own method of assessing prospective students’ English language competence. This means it will still be up to the university to decide whether to accept, as part of their processes for establishing the English language competence of prospective students they wish to sponsor, an ETS certificate as evidence of a prospective student’s ability to speak English at the appropriate level, even if the test is taken after the Immigration Rules changes come into effect.

Further information

For more information about this change, please read the Guidance on applying for a UK visa: approved English language tests.

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Published 20 June 2014