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Applications For Indefinite Leave To Remain And Naturalisation: The English Language Requirement

Posted by: Gherson Immigration

This blog covers frequently asked questions relating to the English language requirement for prospective applications for indefinite leave to remain under the Immigration Rules and for naturalisation as a British citizen under the British Nationality Act 1981. 

The English Language requirement must also be satisfied in other UK immigration applications, such as under Tier 1, Tier 2 and Appendix FM. For the purposes of this blog, we will not be considering the English Language requirement in these categories. 

What is the English language requirement?

For applicants over the age of 18 and under the age of 65, there is a requirement to submit evidence to the Home Office to confirm that the applicant has sufficient knowledge of the English language. Some applicants are exempt from this requirement – as explained below.

How can I meet the English language requirement? 

This requirement can be met by the applicant submitting evidence of an academic qualification, being a UK Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD. If the qualification was obtained abroad, it must be deemed by UK NARIC to meet the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD in the UK. Please contact us if you have a degree obtained abroad and are unsure whether it will meet the requirements. 

Alternatively, an applicant can take an English language test in speaking and listening from a Home Office approved English language test provider. There is a list of approved providers published online by UK Visas and Immigration. The test must be at a minimum level of B1 of the Common European Framework of References for Languages. 

I took an English language test over two years ago, will it still be valid? 

Some approved English Language tests expire after two years, although in some circumstances a test certificate obtained over two years ago can still be used in support of an application. If, for example, the test was used (and accepted) as part of an application for indefinite leave to remain (also known as settlement) and has since expired, you may still be able to use it for a British nationality application. Other exceptions do apply, so it is worth checking if a previous test can be used in support of an application before taking another one. 

Are there circumstances where I do not need to prove my knowledge of the English language? 

As mentioned above, applicants who are under the age of 18 or who are aged 65 or over do not need to prove their knowledge of English.

In addition, applicants from countries that are considered ‘majority English speaking countries’ are exempt from the English language requirement so long as they can evidence their nationality. These countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, Ireland (for citizenship only), St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA.

Applicants who have a long-term physical or mental condition which prohibits them from satisfying the English language requirement may also be exempt but will be required to submit evidence to confirm their condition.

There are also a number of settlement applications under various routes where an applicant may be exempt from satisfying the English language requirement. 

Gherson has extensive experience with all aspects of UK immigration law and applications for settlement and naturalisation. Please contact us to discuss the above exceptions in further detail or to discuss your personal circumstances with regard to whether you will need to satisfy the English language requirement. 

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2020

Sarah Green 

  Sarah Green

  Immigration Consultant in our corporate team

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