Prove English Proficiency for ILR & British Citizenship

by | Dec 23, 2022 | British Citizenship, Indefinite Leave to Remain, Naturalisation, UK Immigration, UK Settlement

To meet the English language requirement for British Citizenship or Indefinite Leave to Remain, you must 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. Unless exempt, your application will be refused if you cannot prove you meet this requirement.

In this post, we cover how you can prove your knowledge of the English language to apply for British citizenship or settlement in the UK. We first discuss who is exempt and does not need to prove that they meet the requirement.

Who does not need to prove their knowledge of English?

You will be exempt from the need to prove your knowledge of English if you are above 65 years of age or have a prevailing physical or mental disability that prevents you from taking the test.  

To prove that you are exempt, you must provide additional evidence from a medical practitioner registered with the General Medical Council confirming your physical or mental condition. 

Exempt nationalities

If you are a national of a majority English-speaking country from the list specified below, you will not need to prove your knowledge of English. Even if your country’s official language is English but is not on this list, you must still prove your knowledge of English. The list of countries is as follows:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • the British overseas territories
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Ireland (for citizenship only)
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

When applying for settlement, you may be exempted if you are applying under certain exceptional circumstances. However, there are no other exemptions if you’re applying to become a British citizen. You must have a relevant English language qualification even if you were exempt when you were granted settlement. 

How to prove knowledge of English for citizenship and settlement 

Those over 18 years of age who do not fall under an exemption need to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language by having either a degree taught or researched in English or passing an English test.

English Language test

You must provide evidence of passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at level CEFR Level B1, B2, C1 or C2, from a Home Office approved test provider such as Trinity College London or IELTS. During your SELT exam, you will be tested on the four English language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. 

You can only use English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualifications if they’re on the list of approved tests. You cannot use other qualifications, for example, GCSEs, A levels or National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs).

When you pass the English exam, you will be provided with a certificate to prove you have the English qualification, or you can view your results online. The certificate or online test reference number may be used in your application.

Some recognised English test qualifications only last for two years. You may still use an expired B1 level qualification you took more than two years ago when applying for settlement or citizenship. 

You may use a B1 level qualification older than two years when applying for settlement if the same certificate was accepted for another UK immigration application (for example, leave to remain as a partner) and it’s on the current list of approved tests. 

When applying for citizenship, you can use a B1 level qualification issued more than two years ago if it was accepted for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. It does not matter if the B1 level test you took is not on the current list of recognised tests. You do not need to take another test.

Degree taught in English for settlement or citizenship application

You can prove your knowledge of English by having an academic degree taught or researched in English. You cannot use a vocational degree as proof. You only need a certificate if your degree is from a UK university. If your degree is not from a UK university, you’ll need the following:

If your degree is from a non-majority English-speaking country, you’ll also need an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from Ecctis confirming the degree was taught in English.

If you’ve lost your certificate or you’re waiting for graduation, you may use other proof of your studies, such as a letter from your university or an official transcript with your name, the institution’s name, your degree and confirmation of the award. 

How can we help

We can provide a no-obligation assessment of your prospects of qualifying for UK Settlement or Citizenship or professional advice or assistance with preparing your application. 

At Whytecroft Ford, we know that accurate and timely advice could make all the difference in the world. We are a highly driven professional team that provides clear and reliable immigration advice to individuals applying for UK Settlement or Citizenship. We apply our extensive knowledge and expertise to our client’s needs.

Frequently asked questions

Is there a language requirement for a partner visa to the UK?

Spouses or civil partners applying to live with their family in the UK must prove their knowledge of English at the required level.

Can I use my old English certificate for a Citizenship application?

You may be able to use the same test certificate that was accepted in your settlement application.

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