Removal of Educational Testing Service (ETS) from approved list of English language test suppliers

On the 10th June 2014, a change to the UK Immigration Rules and Nationality Regulations was laid before Parliament to remove ETS BV from the approved list of English language test suppliers. This change will now come into effect on 1st July 2014.

Applicants in various immigration categories are required to prove their English language ability. One way in which they may do so is by passing an English language test approved by the Secretary of State. The approved tests are set out in Appendix O to the Immigration Rules.

This change will mean that ETS is no longer an English language body approved by the Home Office to award Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT tests for UK immigration purposes. Applicants will need to consider sitting a different test unless they are covered by the transitional arrangements as set out below.

Countries that will no longer have Secure English Language Testing coverage:

This will unfortunately mean that certain countries will not have coverage for approved English Language Test providers and applicants for Entry Clearance will be required to go to another country in order to sit a test. These countries are as follows:

  • Aruba
  • Benin
  • Bermuda
  • French Polynesia
  • Greenland
  • Guam
  • Guinea
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • Nicaragua
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Swaziland
  • Tajikistan
  • Togo
  • Virgin Islands
  • West Bank

If you are resident in one of the above countries, you will need to visit the below link to find the closest country to visit in order to take an approved English Language test:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-applying-for-uk-visa-approved-english-language-tests

Transitional Arrangements:

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

Those applying for Entry Clearance can make a visa application relying on an ETS certificate as long as the visa application is submitted and the visa fee is paid before 22 July 2014.

Those applying for leave to remain can make an application relying on an ETS certificate as long as the visa application is submitted and the visa fee is paid before 1 July 2014.

Further, the UKVI wants to ensure that this change does not have an impact on genuine students applying for Entry Clearance who took an ETS test. Therefore, students applying for Entry Clearance 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:

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

Visa documents which have already been issued to genuine students who took an ETS test overseas in good faith remain valid.

UK Visas and Immigration is currently considering overseas visa applications made using an ETS certificate and they will be subject to normal checks. However, ETS test certificates will only be accepted until the new Immigration Rules come into effect and the transitional provisions have come to an end.

Students should also note that this change only affects those relying on an ETS certificate in their visa application. It does not affect Higher Education Institutions” ability to choose their own method of assessing degree students” English language competence. It will still be up to the university to decide whether to accept an ETS certificate as evidence of a student”s ability to speak English at the appropriate level.

We would recommend that any applicants who have not yet made their visa application to take into account the transitional arrangements if they are relying on an ETS certificate. Applicants should either pay for their application before the 22nd of June, if applying for Entry Clearance or the 1st July, if applying for leave to remain. Alternatively they should sit a test with a different test provider. 

If you have any queries about this recent change to the UK Immigration Rules and Nationality Regulations then please contact us.

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