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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/oisc-competence-assessment-process/the-competence-assessment-process
1. Before the assessment
Applicant advisers will be invited to sit the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner’s (the OISC’s) competence assessment once they have completed a Disclosure and Barring Service check and submitted a new adviser competence statement that meets the necessary experience and training requirements.
The OISC will write to each applicant, usually by email, inviting them to take the assessment. This will depend on the level applied for and the availability of places at the assessment centres. Applicants will be invited to accept the invitation and confirm they will attend the assessment centre.
If you are unable to attend or need to postpone, you must notify your OISC caseworker, however it is important to note that assessments are only deferred in exceptional circumstances. Please note that you will be asked to provide documentary evidence for a postponement to be granted and this must be agreed by your caseworker. If your reason for postponement is not considered exceptional, you will be expected to attend your assessment and failure to do so will result in a fail for non attendance and could lead to the refusal of your application for registration.
The level 1 assessment has 2 sections, section 1 consists of 20 multiple choice questions and section 2 consists of scenario based questions which require written answers. If an applicant passes both sections in one or two attempts, they will pass the assessment overall.
If they have passed one section and failed the other, they will only be required to re-sit the failed section. This only applies in relation to each application for registration received, a single passed section cannot be used by an applicant for a future application.
Applicants applying to work at level 2 or 3 must initially pass the level 1 assessment.
Level 2 and 3 applicants who apply in the categories of both Asylum and Protection and Immigration should be aware that they will be tested in either category on the day of their assessment. Applicants will not be informed of the category in which they will be tested before their assessment and therefore should prepare accordingly.
Applicants that have any special requirements for the day of the assessment must make the OISC aware of their needs in good time so that we can make any necessary special arrangements.
The OISC provides tips on sitting the competence assessments.
1.4 Sample papers
The OISC also provides sample papers and other resources that will assist you when preparing for your assessment.
2. On the day
There could be as many as 50 applicants at the assessment centre. You are advised to arrive in sufficient time to register your attendance and to make yourselves comfortable with the arrangements. You are required to bring your own pens in blue or black ink and any other stationery you wish.
The assessment will be carried out in the presence of invigilators under examination style conditions. The assessment is an ‘open book’ assessment.
Please note there will be no access to the internet and you will not be allowed access to any mobile phones or other electronic devices during the examination.
There will be a time limit for each assessment depending on the level of the assessment to be taken and you will be advised of this in your invitation letter. However, as a guide, you can expect that you will have around 2.5 hours to complete the level 1 assessment, 2 hours 15 minutes for level 2 and 3 hours for level 3.
Applicants sitting the level 1 assessment will have a 30 minute break between section 1 and section 2.
2.1 Photographic I.D.
In order to undertake the assessment we require each applicant to produce photographic proof of identity in the form of either a current passport or driving licence. The document must be an original and the applicant will not be allowed to sit the assessment without this proof of identity.
If you do not have either of these documents then you should contact the OISC as soon as possible.
Please note that failure to provide sufficient identification on the day of the assessment may result in you being unable to take the assessment and awarded an automatic fail.
2.2 Resource document
Prior to the assessment you should print, annotate and study the appropriate Exam Resource Booklet, a key resource document that you may use on the day, which has been specifically written to aid candidates in taking the assessment.
It is important to note that the exam will be based on immigration law as it exists or existed on the date on this document. The document contains information related to all the statutory material, rules and regulations you may need.
You are strongly advised to ensure that you have a printed copy of this resource with you on the day, as copies will not be provided by the OISC on the day of the assessment. You do not have to use this document and there is no reason why a candidate may not pass the assessment if they do not use the document. The document is simply a resource that the applicant may choose to use if they so wish.
Should you wish to bring any other reference material such as immigration handbooks, periodicals and other law handbooks or references to case law, you may do so and refer to them during the assessment.
Please note however that the assessment will be marked according to the Immigration Rules, regulations and case law in place on the date on the resource book.
3. Results of the assessment, next steps and re-sits
When the assessment is over, the papers will be collected (including the question paper) and taken away for marking.
The OISC provides guidance on the marking scheme used in the assessments.
The papers will then be marked and you will be notified of the result of your assessment by email, within 20 working days.
3.1 If you have passed the assessment
The OISC will continue to consider your application for regulation. Please remember that the competence test is just one factor that the OISC considers when deciding an application for regulation.
Passing the test does not mean that you are authorised to provide immigration advice and services and you should wait for formal authorisation from the OISC before you do so.
For those applying at level 2 or 3, passing the assessment at level 1 will result in you being invited to sit the higher level assessment which you have applied for. You will normally be automatically booked for the next available higher level assessment date.
3.2 If you have not passed the assessment
Applicants will be allowed one re-sit at level 1 if they fail any aspect of the assessment.
If an applicant fails twice, then their application for regulation is likely to be refused. You will be contacted by the OISC in due course.
Level 2 and 3
If you fail a higher level assessment paper you may be offered approval at a lower level than that requested. You will not be permitted to re-sit an assessment again as part of the application currently under consideration.
4. Raising your level
If you make a new application to raise your level of competence after a failed attempt at the higher level assessment, you will generally be expected to demonstrate that you have undertaken significant further training, or gained at least 6 months’ additional experience.
It is unlikely that the OISC will put you forward to re-sit a higher level assessment paper, if you have not met this requirement.
5. Contact the OISC
If you have any questions about the competence assessment process, please contact the OISC using the details below:
Telephone: 0207 211 1500