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Family & Partner Visa English Language Requirement

In this post we look at the English language requirement for UK family and partner visas.  Whether you are applying for a spouse visa, civil partner visa, unmarried partner visa, fiance visa or proposed civil partner visa you will need to satisfy an English language requirement.

When does the English language requirement apply?

You must satisfy the Home Office that you meet the English language requirement when applying as a parent of a child under 18, or as a partner under Appendix FM. It is necessary to satisfy an English language requirement when making a first application, any extensions, and at the time you apply for indefinite leave to remain on the basis of continuous lawful residence under that route.

The English language requirement does not apply for an initial application for an Adult Dependent Relative visa or when applying as the child of a person with limited leave to remain as a partner or parent. However, it will be needed when applying for settlement under these routes, unless you are exempt.

Who is exempt from the English language requirement?

In order to be exempt from the English language requirement you will normally have to prove that you are:

  • Under the age of 18 at the date of application;
  • Over the age of 65 at the date of application;
  • Have a physical disability which prevents you from meeting it; or
  • Have a mental disability which prevents you from meeting it.

You may also be exempt on an entry clearance application when exceptional circumstances mean you cannot meet the requirement before entering the UK. Similarly, where applying for leave to remain, if exceptional circumstances prevent your ability to meet the English language requirement then you may be exempt.

Finally, the English language requirement is not applicable under EX.1 of the Immigration Rules. For EX.1 to apply, there must be exceptional circumstances which would make refusal of your application a breach of Article 8 of the ECHR.

How can I meet the English language requirement?

You can meet the English language requirement by:

  • Holding the nationality of a majority English speaking country;
  • Passing an English language test; or
  • Having completed an undergraduate or postgraduate level degree which was taught or researched in English.

What nationalities are accepted by the Home Office as being majority English speaking?

The most recent list of majority English speaking countries according to the Home Office for the purpose of meeting the English language requirement is as follows:

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

To prove your nationality, you must provide your valid passport or travel document. If it has been lost or stolen, expired, or is in the Home Office’s possession, you may rely on alternative evidence. This can be either a valid national identity document or letter from the country’s government, Embassy or High Commission confirming your full name, date of birth and nationality.

Where can I take the English language test? 

If you do not take your English language test at an approved centre, the results will not be accepted by the Home Office. 

There are four approved test providers where you may take the English language test within the UK:

  • IELTS SELT Consortium
  • LanguageCert
  • Pearson
  • Trinity College London

If you are outside of the UK, you must use one of the following providers:

  • IELTS SELT Consortium
  • LanguageCert
  • Pearson
  • PSI Services (UK) Ltd

What type of English language test do I need to take?

First, it must be on the list of approved tests which the Home Office are satisfied have met their requirements for secure English language testing (SELT): 

  • IELTS SELT Consortium: ‘IELTS for UKVI’ or ‘IELTS Life Skills’
  • LanguageCert: ‘LanguageCert International ESOL SELT’
  • Pearson: ‘PTE Academic UKVI’ or ‘PTE Home’
  • PSI Services: ‘Skills for English UKVI’
  • Trinity College London: ‘Secure English Language Tests for UKVI’ – Integrated Skills in English (ISE) or Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE)

Second, the content and level of the test must be correct for the type of application. 

For entry clearance as a parent or partner, and for leave to remain as a parent or partner (where you have not previously met the requirement in an application for entry clearance or leave to remain as a parent or partner), you must pass a speaking and listening test at a level minimum to A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. 

For further leave to remain as a parent or partner after 30 months’ presence in the UK, where you previously relied on an A1 level English language test to meet the English language requirement, you must pass an English language test in speaking and listening at a minimum of level A2.

For indefinite leave to remain as a parent or partner, you must show ‘sufficient knowledge of language’ in the UK. The sufficient level is found in Appendix KoLL; you must pass a test at a minimum level of B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. 

How do I prove that I passed the English language test?

You must show that you successfully completed both elements of speaking and listening in one sitting of the examination, unless exempt from completing both components at once due to disability. In order to prove this, you do not need to provide the test certificate or any other documents. However, you must provide your SELT unique reference number. This can be found on your test result as:

  • ‘UER’ for Trinity College London tests
  • ‘UKVI number’ for IELTS SELT Consortium tests
  • ‘Candidate URN’ for LanguageCert tests
  • ‘SELT URN’ for Pearson tests

Your test results will only remain valid for 2 years after the date of passing. If your test has expired before you make the application, you should take it again.

Which degrees are accepted?

You may satisfy this requirement if you hold a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD awarded by an educational establishment in the UK. 

If your degree was taught outside the UK but in one of the following countries, the Home Office will also accept it as evidence of meeting the requirement:

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

You must provide a certificate of your qualification showing your name and the name of the institution, the degree level, and the date of award. If you have not yet graduated or have lost the certificate, you may use either an academic reference or transcript instead. These should contain the same information as needed on the certificate and also be written on official letter headed paper. If you have not completed the qualification yet, it should include the expected date of award.

You may still be able to rely on your degree if it was completed outside of those countries if it is certified by the National Academic Recognition Information Centre for the UK (UK NARIC). First, UK NARIC must agree that the qualification meets or exceeds the standard of a Bachelor’s, Master’s degree or PhD in the UK. Second, it must be found to have been taught or researched to level A1 or A2 (depending on the application) of the Common Framework of Reference for Languages. The level required for each application type is the same as for the English language tests as set out above. You must provide the UK NARIC certificate as evidence. 

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to an application under Appendix FM, 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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