Following an investigation earlier in the year, the Home Office has announced that its licence agreement with ETS to provide Secure English Language Testing (‘SELT’) for visa applications ended on 5 April 2014 and will not be extended.
An email sent to sponsors on 17 April 2014 from Christine Douglas, National Lead for Temporary Migration at the Home Office, said;
‘We have suspended accepting ETS tests as evidence of English language ability. Applicants wishing to make an application should take a test with an alternative provider from the list. We will write to you again with full details of how we will work through applications that are currently suspended. I am sure you understand that we treat any threat to immigration control with the utmost seriousness and as such, cannot allow any cases where fraudulent evidence may have been obtained to be processed until we have absolute certainty that they are genuine. If you wish to withdraw your sponsorship of an applicant, you must do so via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). The application will then be refused.‘
In relation to the student visa system, unfortunately this information fails to take into account:
- the impact that refusals of Tier 4 applications can have on a sponsor’s ability to renew its HTS status;
- the emotional and financial impact on individual students who find that sponsorship is withdrawn at a critical stage in the application process; and
- the potential contractual issues that may arise from a decision to terminate sponsorship.
We therefore strongly recommend that where a student who requires sponsorship has an ETS-delivered TOEFL or TOEIC, sponsors consider alternative solutions to the withdrawal of sponsorship and actively engage with students during that process.
Further information on alternative approved English language tests for UK visa applications can be found here.
If you are a sponsor and require legal advice on any of the issues created by the termination of ETS’ licence, please contact us.