Personal Immigration

English Language Requirement for Spouse Visas

The English language requirement for partner and parent visas was introduced on 29 November 2010 by then Home Secretary Theresa May, who stated at the time that ‘the new English requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services’. This requirement is equally relevant for partner and parent visa applications.

What is the English language requirement?

The English language requirement can be met in three possible ways, outlined in E-ECP.4.1 of Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules. These include: 

  • by being a national of a majority English speaking country;
  • by holding a degree taught in English or;
  • by taking an approved English language test.

Which countries are viewed as majority English speaking?

If you are a national of a majority English speaking country, you will be accepted as meeting the English language requirement. The following countries are considered by the Home Office to be majority English speaking:

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

Spouse visa applicants who are a national of a majority English speaking country will not be required to provide any evidence of their English language ability other than their passport. 

Which degrees taught in English are accepted?

You may meet the English Language requirement by having ‘an academic qualification which is either a Bachelor’s or Master’s or PhD awarded by an educational establishment in the UK’. If your degree was taught at an educational institution outside of the UK, you will be required to obtain confirmation from an organisation known as UK NARIC that the award is at an equivalent level to a degree taught in the UK. This applies even if the degree was awarded in an English speaking country. 

The Home Office has a slightly different list of countries which are accepted as meeting the requirement for degrees taught in English. If the qualification was taken in one of the following countries, the Home Office will assume that it was taught or researched in English: 

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

Those holding a degree taught in English will be required to provide their degree certificate as evidence. If your degree was taught outside of the UK, you will need evidence of the confirmation from UK NARIC that your degree is equivalent to a degree taught in the UK. 

Which English language tests are acceptable?

A third way of meeting the English language requirement for partner visa applications is to have passed an approved ‘English language test in speaking and listening’. The test must meet three requirements: the test itself must be an approved English language test, it must be taken with an approved Secure English Language Testing (SELT) provider and it must be taken at an approved English language test centre.

The approved English language tests and providers are set out at  Appendix O of the Immigration Rules. They are:

  • Graded exams in spoken English (GESE) offered by Trinity College London 
  • IELTS Life Skills offered by the IELTS SELT Consortium 
  • Integrated Skills in English offered by Trinity College London

If you are still unsure of whether your test is valid, you can find an extensive list of approved tests and test centres around the world, published on 1 August 2019, here

When booking a test, you must ensure that you select the option of sitting a test for UKVI

purposes rather than a general test. If the general or academic test is sat rather than a UKVI approved test, the application will be refused. For those who have completed an English language test, you will need to provide your test pass certificate as evidence. Once this test has been taken, it will be valid for 2 years.

Could I be exempt from the English language requirement?

It is possible that you will be exempt from meeting the requirements above. This can be found in paragraph E-LTRP 4.2 of the immigration rules. The applicant may be exempt in cases where they are 65 or over, where they are unable to meet the requirement due to a long term physical or mental condition, or where there are exceptional circumstances which prevent you from being able to meet the requirement prior to entry to the UK. In addition, the English language requirement is unnecessary for those who fall under EX.1 of the Immigration Rules.

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to a UK spouse visa application, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

SEE HOW OUR IMMIGRATION BARRISTERS CAN HELP YOU

To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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