VisaGuide » Europe » UK Visa » English Language Proficiency
Learn about the requirements to prove the English language proficiency and life in the UK, and who is exempt from such requirements

If you are over the age of 18 years old, and you are applying to settle in the United Kingdom (ILR) or you are applying for citizenship, then you may have to prove that you have satisfying knowledge of the English language.

Do I Need to Meet the English Language Requirement?

You will need to meet the English language requirement if you at least 18 years old and you are applying for either an indefinite leave to remain or UK citizenship.

Yet, even if you meet the statement above, you may be exempt in the following occasions:

  • You are aged 65 or over.
  • You are unable to learn English due to a long-term physical or mental condition. Note that in such cases you need to submit a confirmation from your doctor about your physical or mental condition.
  • You are a citizen of any of the following: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago or the USA.

In addition, when applying to settle in the United Kingdom, you will be exempt from the English language requirement, if any of the following statements apply to you:

  • You are a victim of domestic violence and the partner or spouse of a British citizen or someone settled in the UK.
  • You are the partner or spouse of a late British citizen or ILR holder.
  • You are an adult-dependent relative between 18 and 64 of a refugee or a person with humanitarian protection in the UK.
  • You are a refugee living in the UK.
  • You are someone living in the UK with discretionary leave, or with humanitarian protection.
  • You are someone who has permission to stay in the UK as a retired person of independent means.
  • You are a Commonwealth citizen on discharge from HM Forces, including Gurkhas.
  • You are a highly skilled migrant applying under the terms of the highly skilled migrant program (HSMP) judicial review and your dependents.
  • You are someone in exceptional circumstances, i.e. an orphan, widow or over-age dependent.

What Are the Approved English Language Qualifications?

There are two ways to prove that you know the English language at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level, which levels are required as proof that you meet the English language requirement. These ways are:

  • A recognized English test qualification from an approved test center.
  • A degree taught or researched in English.

Recognized English Test Qualification

You will need to present a certificate issued by an approved test center, to prove that you meet the English language requirement.

Please note that there are specific tests that are recognized as proof of sufficient English language knowledge. Find here a list of the approved tests for this requirement.

Many of these recognized tests have a validity of two years. Yet, you will be able to use such a test even if it has expired, in two cases.

  • When applying for UK citizenship, you can apply with a B1 certificate that has expired, but you had previously issued that one when you settled in the UK.
  • When applying for an Indefinite Leave to Remain you can use an expired B1 level qualification, if it is on the current list of recognized tests, and you used the same for another UK immigration application, i.e. when you got the permission to enter the UK.

Degree Taught or Researched in English

If you own a degree that was taught or researched in English, then you can use that one as proof that you meet the English language requirement.

If your degree is from a UK university, you will need only your degree certificate. On the other hand, you will need to provide the following if your degree is from a non-UK university:

  • A copy of your degree certificate.
  • An Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the degree is equivalent to a UK qualification.
  • An English Language Proficiency Statement from UK NARIC confirming the degree was taught in English, if your degree is from a non-majority English-speaking country.

In case you have lost your certificate or you have still not received it from the university, you will need to submit one of the two listed below:

  • Official transcript issued by the university, containing the name of the university, your degree, and a confirmation of the award.
  • A letter issued from the university, which confirms your degree and explains why you do not have it, and whether it will reissue you one or not.

Life in the UK Test

Please do not confuse the English language requirement with Life in the UK Test.  The latter is a test you have to take while in the UK if you are applying for indefinite leave to remain and you are between 18 and 64 years old.

The test is computer-based, and you need to answer at least 18 out of 24 questions correctly. If you pass the test once, you won’t need to take it again, if i.e. you apply for British citizenship.

Did you find this page helpful?
Yes No
Scroll to Top