There are two types of immigration status in the UK, (1) Citizenship and (2) Right to settle. The English language requirements vary depending on which you intend to do, and whether any exceptions apply.
It is easier to begin with finding out if any exemptions apply.
Do I need to take an English language test?
You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re:
- aged 65 or over
- unable to, because of a long-term physical or mental condition
You will not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a citizen of:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Ireland (for citizenship only)
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
You can prove your knowledge of English by having a degree that was taught or researched in English.
If your degree is from a UK university, you only need your degree certificate.
If your degree is not from a UK university you’ll need:
- a copy of your degree certificate
- an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the degree is equivalent to a UK qualification.
If your degree is from a non-majority English-speaking country you’ll also need an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from UK NARIC confirming the degree was taught in English.
Applying for citizenship
Applying to settle in the UK
You can use a B1 level qualification that’s run out if both of the following are true:
- it’s on the current list of recognised tests
- it was accepted for another UK immigration application, for example when you got permission to enter
Exemptions if you’re applying to settle
You do not need to prove your knowledge of English 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 person who has died who was either a British citizen or someone settled in the UK
- an adult dependent relative between 18 and 64 of someone who is present and settled in the UK, is a refugee or has humanitarian protection
- a refugee living in the UK
- someone living in the UK with discretionary leave
- someone living in the UK for with humanitarian protection
- someone who has permission to stay in the UK as a retired person of independent means
- a Commonwealth citizen on discharge from HM Forces, including Gurkhas
- someone in exceptional circumstances, for example as an orphan, widow or over-age dependant
What type of test do I need?
You can prove your knowledge of English by having a recognised English test qualification from an approved test centre.
You need to have a certificate to prove you have the qualification, or be able to view your results online.
You can only use English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualifications if they’re on the list. You cannot use other qualifications, for example GCSEs, A levels or National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs).
There are 2 types of test as different immigration routes require different levels of English language ability. The test you will need to take depends on what you are applying for.
For the following application routes, you will need to take a test that assesses your reading, writing, speaking and listening abilities:
- Skilled Worker
- Minister of Religion
For the following application routes, you will need to take a test that assesses your speaking and listening abilities:
- Representative of an Overseas Business
- settlement (also known as indefinite leave to remain)
The level of test you will need, known as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level, will depend on the route you are applying for. To find out which level you need, see the specific guidance for your immigration route.
f you are outside of the UK
You can only take a SELT with one of the following providers:
You should make sure the test that you book is the one approved for SELT:
- IELTS SELT Consortium: ‘IELTS for UKVI’ or ‘IELTS Life Skills’
- LanguageCert: ‘LanguageCert International ESOL SELT’
- Pearson: ‘PTE Academic UKVI’ or ‘PTE Home’
- PSI Services: ‘Skills for English UKVI’
- Trinity College London: ‘Secure English Language Tests for UKVI’ – Integrated Skills in English (ISE) or Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE)
It is for you to decide which test to take.
The list of approved tests gives the CEFR level and minimum grade requirements for each level.
Where 2 or more components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of a test are examined and awarded together, for example a combined exam and certificate for reading and writing skills, you must show that you achieved the required scores in all the relevant components during a single sitting of that examination, unless you were exempt from sitting a component on the basis of a disability.
After the test
After you pass the test, you will be given a SELT unique reference number which you must use when making your application. If you do not include your reference number, your application may be refused.
You will find your SELT unique reference number on your test result as:
- ‘UER’ for Trinity College London tests
- ‘UKVI number’ for IELTS SELT Consortium tests
- ‘Candidate URN’ for LanguageCert tests
- ‘SELT URN’ for Pearson tests
You do not need to submit any documents as part of the immigration or nationality application. Test results and scores are checked using the SELT online verification system provided by each approved SELT test provider using a SELTunique reference number.
If you took a test in the UK, you can use your result for UK and overseas applications. You can also use tests taken overseas for applications made in the UK.
Test results are valid for 2 years from the date the test is awarded.