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Who Needs to Take the Test – Settlement

This article covers who needs to take the Life in the UK Test when applying for settlement. If you are applying for naturalisation as a British citizen then please see Who needs to take the test – Citizenship.

The Life in the UK Test is a compulsory requirement for most people wanting to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen or permanent residence – also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or settlement.

In order to meet the ‘Knowledge of language and life in the UK’ requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)/settlement you must:

  • pass the Life in the UK test, unless exempt (see below)
  • have a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 CEFR or higher, or its equivalent

If you have lived in the United Kingdom legally for a certain length of time – usually five years – you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You can check if you will be eligible with the GOV.uk form. Categories that allow an application for permanent residency in the UK include:

  • Legal residence – after five years (for example, spent on a Tier 2 visa)
  • Marriage or partner of a British citizen, or a person settled in the UK – five years, all of which must be spent on the spouse/partner visa.
  • Long residency – after ten years legal residency

If your application for ILR is successful then you will be allowed to live and work in the country lawfully with no time limits or conditions on your stay. However, permanent residents are advised not to spend periods of more than two years outside of the UK. Long-term residents should consider the UK their home. Spending small periods of time here may lead to ILR being revoked.

Once your application for ILR has been approved you are able to apply for public benefits, subject to eligibility.

For applicants seeking to remain as the spouse or partner of a British citizen, or someone settled in the UK, you must be able to show that you were given permission to enter/remain in the country on a marriage/partner visa and that you have completed the residency requirement. You will also need to be able to provide evidence of your cohabitation and you must intend to continue the marriage.


Key exemptions to the language requirement are covered in our article, The Language requirement.

There are some people do not need to take the test for settlement. You don’t need to take the test if any of the following apply:

  • You are under 18 years of age
  • You are over 65 years of age

Health and disabilities

If you have a ‘long-standing, permanent’ physical or mental health condition you may be exempt. This condition must prevent you from studying for or taking the test permanently. To be exempt you must:

  • be suffering from a long-term illness or disability that severely restricts your mobility and ability to attend language classes; or
  • have a mental impairment which means that you are unable to learn another language.

You will have to provide evidence from a medical practitioner to confirm this disability.

You will not be exempted on the grounds of illiteracy.

If you have a visual or hearing impairment then this will not necessarily exempt you from the test. Physical conditions like this are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Most test centres are well equipped to assist people with such disabilities. Check with your local test centre to see if they can accommodate you. If they can not, then contact the Home Office for guidance on completing your application for settlement or citizenship.