What is the English language requirement?
Foreign nationals who have lived in the UK for a certain period of time under a relevant route can be eligible to become British citizens via naturalisation. Becoming a British citizen comes with many benefits but there are a number of requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible. One of these requirements is the English language requirement.
To meet the English language criteria you must be able to prove that you have sufficient knowledge of the English language, this means that you can read, write, speak and understand English at the appropriate level.
There are different ways that you can demonstrate that you meet the English language requirement. You can either:
- Sit and pass an approved English language test
- Show proof that you have a degree that was taught or researched in English
- Show proof that you are a national of a majority English speaking country
It’s not just those who are applying for British citizenship that need to meet this requirement. The English language requirement also applies to foreign nationals applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain as well as applicants for certain types of UK visas.
What type of English language test should I take for my British citizenship application?
If you are not exempt and you do not have an eligible degree then you must sit an English language test to meet the requirement. You must pass a recognised English test at an approved centre. The type of test you must take is known as a Secure English Language Test (SELT).
You can meet the English language requirement by passing an approved test at either B1, B2, C1 or C2 level.
If you are in the UK then the approved British citizenship English test providers include:
- IELTS SELT Consortium
- Trinity College London
If you are outside of the UK then the approved test providers include:
- IELTS SELT Consortium
- PSI Services (UK) Ltd
In most cases, you must have passed your English language test during the two years prior to your British citizenship application. When applying for citizenship you can prove that you have passed the test by either providing the unique reference number of your exam or a copy of your test certificate.
What happens during the Secure English Language Test?
During your Secure English Language Test, you will be tested on the four skills of the English language, which includes reading, writing, listening and speaking.
What happens during your test depends on the test provider that you choose as the structure of the test can vary.
One of the most common providers is IELTS. If you choose IELTS then you will sit a 30-minute listening test, a 60-minute reading test and a 60-minute writing test on the same day. You will then need to take a short speaking test which you can do up to a week after the first tests.
Overall, the test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. You can find out more about what to expect during the test on the IELTS website.
Using a degree to meet the English language requirement
You don’t need to sit an English language test if you have an eligible English taught degree that you can use to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the language sufficiently.
If you are using your degree to meet the English language requirement then it must be an academic degree obtained either from a UK university or a university in an English speaking majority country.
If it is a UK degree you will need to provide your degree certificate and if it is not a UK degree then you will need to provide a copy of your degree certificate as well as an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from Ecctis that confirms your degree is equivalent to a UK qualification and an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) that confirms it is an English taught degree.
Who is exempt from the English language requirement?
You can be exempt from needing to meet the English language requirement to become a British citizen if you are either over the age of 65 or if you are unable to meet the requirement due to a long-term physical or mental disability.
If you believe that you are exempt due to the above reasons then you will need to provide an exemption form completed by a doctor confirming your physical or mental condition.
You also do not need to sit a language test or show proof of a degree if you are a citizen of a majority English speaking country. If you are able to meet the English language requirements because you are from an English speaking country then you will just need to provide your passport to prove your nationality.
A majority English speaking country is a country in which at least one of the official languages is English, this includes countries such as the USA, Australia, Canada, Malta and more.
How can London Immigration Lawyers help?
Becoming a British citizen is a life-changing event that comes with many benefits, however, the application process isn’t easy and it can be incredibly difficult to navigate it alone.
Our immigration lawyers are experienced when it comes to assisting with British citizenship applications, they know exactly what it takes for an application to be successful and can give you the best chance of success.
One of the most difficult aspects of the British citizenship application process is meeting the strict requirements. Our lawyers will help you to do this. We can advise you about whether you need to take an English language test, which test to take and how to book it. We can also help you to meet the other requirements, this includes helping you to prepare for the Life in the UK Test and assisting you with gathering a substantial portfolio of documents to support your application.
To find out more about how our lawyers can assist you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today by calling 020 4502 8582.
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