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UK Visa English Language Test Requirement Exemptions

Foreign citizens who apply for UK visas must have a good command of the English language and often need to take a language test that proves it.

However, not all UK visa applicants are required to pass the English language test. Find out more about exemptions.

Call our London immigration lawyers on 020 4502 8582 for professional assistance with your situation. We are here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.

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    What is the English Language Test Requirement for UK Visas?

    When submitting an application for a UK visa, foreign citizens might need to prove their knowledge of the English language.

    Visa applicants must prove that they have good reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in English. However, the required level of ability, known as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level, depends on the type of visa they are applying for.

    For example, applicants for the Skilled Worker Visa must obtain a B1 level certificate but those who want to obtain the Minister of Religion visa must get a B2 proficiency.

    The English language requirement applies also to those who want to apply for settlement in the UK. Applicants must demonstrate that they have the equivalent of level B1 on the CEFR scale.

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    Who is Exempt From the English Language Test Requirement?

    Some visa or settlement applicants do not have to pass the English language test. They are exempt from this requirement if any of the following applies to their circumstances:

    • They are aged 65 or over
    • They have an academic degree that was taught or researched in English
    • They have a long-term physical or mental disability that prevents them from taking the test
    • They are a national of a country where English is predominantly spoken

    If you are not sure whether you must pass the English language test to proceed with your UK visa application, get in touch with our lawyers. They will assess your individual situation and tell you in detail whether you must take the test and, if so, what level of ability you need to demonstrate.

    Which Nationalities are Exempt From the English Language Test Requirement?

    Nationals of countries where the majority speak English are exempt from the English language test requirement.

    These countries are:

    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Australia
    • The Bahamas
    • Barbados
    • Belize
    • Canada
    • Dominica
    • Grenada
    • Guyana
    • Jamaica
    • New Zealand
    • The Republic of Ireland
    • St Kitts and Nevis
    • St Lucia
    • St Vincent and the Grenadines
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • USA

    If you are a citizen of one of these countries, you need to provide proof of identity when applying for a UK visa to prove that you are exempt from the English language test requirement.

    Who is Exempt From the English Language Test Requirement When Applying to Settle?

    The exemptions from the English language test requirement for UK visas concern also settlement applications. However, there are also further exemptions.

    Those applying for settlement in the UK are also exempt from the English language test requirement if they are:

    • A partner or spouse of a British citizen and became a victim of domestic violence
    • A partner or spouse of a British citizen who died
    • A refugee living in the UK
    • A person who has humanitarian protection in the UK
    • A dependent relative of someone who has refugee status in the UK or has humanitarian protection there
    • A retired person who lives in the UK with independent means
    • A Commonwealth citizen who is on discharge from the British Armed Forces
    • Someone in exceptional circumstances

    Additionally, those applying for settlement as a partner, parent or dependent child older than 18 years of age might be exempt if they meet all of the following conditions:

    • They have spent a continuous period of 15 years in the UK with valid permission
    • They have attended an English language class for at least 75 guided learning hours in the 12 months immediately prior to their settlement application
    • They have obtained a speaking and listening qualification in English at level A2 CEFR, ESOL entry level 2 or Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework level 3

    If you are currently residing in the UK and you are planning to apply for settlement, get in touch with our lawyers. They will tell you whether you qualify for the English language requirement exemption.

    What are the Requirements for the English Language Test?

    Foreign citizens who want to obtain a UK visa or apply for settlement and who do not qualify for an exemption must pass a secure English language test (SELT) to prove their knowledge of English.

    To be able to use the test results as part of the visa application, the following conditions must be met:

    • The test is included on the list of approved English language tests
    • They plan to take the test with an approved provider
    • They plan to take the test at an approved location
    • The test has been awarded in the 2 years immediately before their visa application

    Approved test providers in the UK are Trinity College London, IELTS SELT Consortium, LanguageCert, and Pearson.

    Outside of the UK, these are PSI Services (UK) Ltd, IELTS SELT Consortium, LanguageCert, and Pearson.

    Our immigration lawyers can tell you in detail which language tests you can take and how to register for them.

    If you have any questions about your UK Visa English Language Test, our team is happy to assist you. Contact us

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      How Can Our Lawyers Help?

      We are a team of specialist UK immigration lawyers based in London and we are ready to help you with your visa application and any immigration issues you might have.

      There are many UK visas you can choose from depending on the purpose of your trip to the UK. We can assess your circumstances and tell you which permit you should apply for.

      Every UK visa comes with different eligibility criteria and the level of English language required. Our lawyers can tell you what level of English you need to have for your chosen visa and can explain to you where you can take an approved test.

      Thanks to the help of our lawyers, you can be sure that you know how to demonstrate that you meet the English language requirement. And, if you have any questions regarding the process of applying for a visa or UK settlement, our lawyers can answer them.

      Call us today on 020 4502 8582 to find out more about how our experienced immigration lawyers can help.

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                Related pages for your continued reading.

                Frequently Asked Questions

                There are several ways in which applicants for UK visas or settlement can prove their knowledge of the English language. These are:

                • They can provide proof of identity showing that they are a national of a majority English-speaking country
                • They have proven their knowledge of English at the required level when applying for a different UK visa in the past
                • They have obtained an academic degree taught or researched in English
                • They successfully passed an approved English language test with an approved provider

                The level of English applicants must have depends on the type of UK visa they want to obtain.

                Those who want to obtain the Skilled Worker Visa must prove that they can read, write, speak and understand English at level B1 or higher on the CEFR scale. Applicants can prove that they meet this requirement by showing that:

                • They come from a majority English-speaking country
                • They have an academic degree taught or researched in English
                • They have a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English (they must have gained it by studying at a UK school that they began when they were younger than 18 years of age)
                • They are a doctor, dentist, nurse, midwife or vets and they have already passed an English Language assessment accepted by a regulated professional body

                Those who want to come to the UK as dependents of Skilled Worker Visa holders do not need to prove their English language skills during the initial application. However, if they want to apply for settlement after living in the UK for at least 5 years, they will need to meet the English language requirement then.

                The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is an international scale used to describe language ability. It organises language proficiency in six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. Out of them, A1 is the least and C2 the most advanced.

                These six levels are further regrouped into three levels: Basic User, Independent User and Proficient User.

                CEFR exams are divided into several segments and typically measure skills in listening, reading, speaking, writing, translating and interpreting.

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