Knowledge of life and language requirement

Passing your Life in the UK test is just one part of proving that you are ready to become a permanent resident or naturalised citizen of the UK. The Home Office also necessitates that you must meet certain English language requirements.

All applicants for settlement or naturalisation as a British citizen will need to meet the knowledge of language and life requirement by:

  • passing the life in the UK test; and
  • having a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 CEFR or higher, or its equivalent.

The full details of the language requirements can be found on the GOV.uk website.

You can prove your knowledge of English by having a recognised English test qualification from an approved test centre. The follow qualifications are considered equivalent to B1 ECFR:

  • Qualifications found on the Home Office’s list of approved English language tests
  • an ESOL qualification at Entry 3 or higher (eg Level 1 or 2) on the Ofqual register taken in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • an ESOL qualification at Scottish Qualifications Framework levels 4, 5 or 6 awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and taken in Scotland

Exemptions from the language requirement

Certain groups of people are considered exempt from the English language requirement because their level of English has already been demonstrated by other means.

For instance, if you have obtained a degree-level qualification, or higher, which was taught in English then you do not need to show a formal speaking and listening qualification. Your qualification must be deemed by UK NARIC to be equivalent, to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, or a doctorate level qualification in the UK.

You are also exempt if you are from a majority English speaking country. This is a common sense exemption - there is no need for an Australian to prove they can speak English, for example. The following countries are considered 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
  • The United States of America

Note, if you are exempt from the English language requirement you still have to pass the Life in the UK test.

Exemptions for settlement/ILR

You don’t need to meet the English language requirement for Settlement applications if you’re applying as:

  • a victim of domestic violence as the partner or spouse of a British citizen or someone settled in the UK
  • the partner or spouse of a British citizen or someone settled in the UK who has died
  • an adult dependent relative between 18 and 64 of someone present and settled in the UK or who is as a refugee or has humanitarian protection
  • a refugee living in the UK for 5 years
  • someone living in the UK for 6 years with discretionary leave
  • someone living in the UK for 3 years with humanitarian protection
  • someone who has permission to stay in the UK as a retired person of independent means
  • a foreign and Commonwealth citizen on discharge from HM Forces - including Gurkhas
  • a highly skilled migrant applying under the terms of the highly skilled migrant program (HSMP) judicial review and your dependants
  • someone in exceptional circumstances, eg as an orphan, widow or overage dependant
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