There can be so many pitfalls in meeting the UKVI English Language requirement. From picking and paying for the wrong test and having to re-sit a different test, to misunderstanding the test result and believing you have passed – it is easy to mistakenly believe you have satisfied this requirement.
Unfortunately, the outcome of misunderstanding the rules can hold huge financial consequences and cause significant delays to your arrival in the UK.
Do I need to meet the UKVI English Language requirement?
So, you’ve decided to come to the UK, and you believe you meet the requirements for your visa but need to meet the English Language requirement to prove your level of English.
Check to see if your visa requires you to prove your English Language here.
How can I meet the English Language requirement?
The first thing to consider is the level of English that you will require for your visa. Different visas require different levels of English, for example Skilled workers are required to pass English at Level B1, the first Entry Clearance visa for a Partner will require level A1 (a more basic level), and a Student visa will require a different level again and can depend upon the course you will be studying.
Once you determine the level you need to meet, you will need to determine how you will meet it.
If you have met the required level of English or higher in a previous successful visa application then you will automatically meet the requirement in your present application. This route aside, we will now look at the three main ways to meet the English Language requirement.
1. You are from a ‘majority English speaking country’:
The first thing to check is that you do not come from one of the countries that the UKVI deems as being a ‘majority English speaking country.’ If you do, happy days: there is no need for you to have anything else other than your passport to prove this.
2. You studied a course at degree level in English:
Your degree is from a UK university:
If you have studied an academic course at degree level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD) at a UK university, you will need to provide your degree certificate with your application. This will satisfy the requirement.
Your degree is from a non-UK university:
If you have studied an academic course at degree level in English outside of the UK, and you believe this qualifies, you need to contact an organisation called ECCTIS (which used to be called UK NARIC). They will investigate whether your course was taught at a high enough level of English to meet this requirement and will issue you a letter stating what level of the CEFR your course was considered to be taught at.
The CEFR is the Common European Framework Reference and provides a reference for all English Language tests to show what level each of the tests equate to. It essentially brings all the English Language tests on to a spectrum so you can see how your level of English might compare to others and is used by educational institutions worldwide.
You must now check whether the level quoted on your letter from ECCTIS is the same as, or higher than the level required by your visa.
If your letter states that you passed at a level the same or higher than you require, you must submit your degree certificate along with your ECCTIS letter. This will satisfy the requirement.
3. You have taken an approved English Language test at a UKVI approved English Language provider:
If you have are not from a majority speaking country and have not studied in English at degree level, you will need to sit an approved course at an approved test provider. Test providers approved by the UKVI exist all around the world.
Before you look into which test you should take you should find out what the UKVI want you to prove. They may require you to only prove your speaking and listening skills, or you could be expected to prove all four components: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Once you know this you can find the correct English Language test here.
And you can find an approved test provider here.
Now that you know how to meet the English language requirement, we will take two examples to give you an idea of the things you need to consider.
For the purposes of these examples, we will cover the types of English Language test that you need for a ‘Skilled Worker’ visa and ‘Visa to join a partner who is British or settled in the UK’ as these are very popular visas for people to apply for. We will presume in these examples that you are not from a majority English speaking country, and you have not studied a course at degree level or above.
Example 1 – The English Language requirement for a Skilled Worker visa:
A skilled worker visa requires a level of B1. You will need an approved English Language test taken with an approved test provider, at Level B1. For this type of visa, you will need to pass all four elements of your chosen test.
The following are the tests that are accepted to show level B1:
- Tests taken inside the UK: Pearson, IELTS, LanguageCert, and Trinity College London.
- Tests taken outside the UK: Pearson, IELTS, LanguageCert, and PSI Service (UK) Ltd.
You will also need to check that you have passed your test by looking at the following link and locate the document titled ‘List of approved secure English language tests taken in the UK’ or ‘List of approved secure English language tests taken outside the UK’, dependent on where you are applying from.
For instance, if you take the English Language test with LanguageCert, you must check that you have passed every component with more than 33 out of 50. This is true even if the provider has moderated your test and they have issued you with certificates stating you have passed. The UKVI will check with the test provider and if you have even scored 32 out of 50 for one component, this will not be sufficient to meet the English language requirement.
If you cannot see the scores for your test, and you are concerned that you cannot see sufficient information to check that you have passed, contact your test provider, and ask them for a breakdown of your scores for each component.
Example 2 – The English Language requirement for a Partner visa:
Your first visa to join a British or settled partner in the UK will require you to pass English at level A1. Your extension Partner visa will require Level A2. When you apply for settlement, or Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will need to take a Level B1 test. However, if you first arrive in the UK on a visa for a fiancé/proposed civil partner, you will only need to show Level A1 for your first spouse visa. After that, you will follow the same trajectory as outlined above.
This type of visa will only require you to show your English Language level for the Speaking and Listening components, as it requires you to integrate into the UK and be able to communicate sufficiently, therefore you do not need the more academic components of Reading and Writing English.
Top Tip: If your knowledge of English Language is very strong at the beginning of the process, you might consider taking an English Language test to prove your English at level B1 from the beginning. This will save you paying for an additional English Language test each time you pay for your visa.
You will however need to ensure you take the right English Language test at the correct provider just as the above example. You can do this by checking the correct English Language tests here. At this link, you will find further links for two spreadsheets: one with a list of approved tests taken in the UK and another with a list of approved tests taken outside the UK. Ensure that you use the correct spreadsheet for your circumstances.
When looking at the table in the relevant spreadsheet, you are looking to locate a test at Level A1 or a higher level, if you have chosen to take a higher-level test such as Level A2 or B1. For a partner visa, you will be looking for a test with only 2 components – Speaking and Listening. Once you have selected the right test and test provider, and taken your test, you will need to check that you have passed, by looking at how your particular test provider assesses a pass. You will find all that information at the following link.
There are several instances in which you could be exempt from meeting the English Language requirement.
If the applicant is under the age of 18 or aged 65 and over at the date of application, they are exempt from meeting the English language requirement. This will be evidenced with the applicant’s passport or travel document that is submitted with the application.
- Physical or mental condition
If you believe your physical or mental health condition would prevent you from meeting the English language requirement, you may be exempt.This could include if you are suffering from an ongoing illness or disability that severely restricts your ability to learn English or take the test, have a mental health condition that prevents you from speaking or learning English to the required level, or are going through treatment for a serious or life-threatening illness that severely restricts your ability to learn English or take a test.
However, there is a high threshold for evidencing your condition and how it impacts your ability to learn English, to prove your knowledge of the English language, and/or to take the test. You are required to explain why you think you are exempt due to a physical or mental condition and provide evidence to support this.
Truth Legal Solicitors
If you have questions about the English language requirement, and you need help with your next steps, contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation.
You can also visit our immigration for individuals page to find out what services we offer.