From 28th October 2013 all applicants for indefinite leave to remain or naturalisation are required to pass the Life in the UK Test and to have an English language qualification.

by Bruce Mennell | | Blog

From 28th October 2013 all applicants for indefinite leave to remain or naturalisation are required to pass the Life in the UK Test and to have an English language qualification.

It remains a requirement that all applicants for settlement must demonstrate that they have sufficient knowledge about life in the UK and sufficient knowledge of the English language (unless they qualify for an exception). However, the way in which knowledge of the English language is proven has changed. Passing the Life in the UK test is no longer accepted as demonstrating knowledge of English. The English language qualification must be at Level B1 on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference). This is equivalent to ESOL Entry 3, level 1, level 2 or level 3. Applications received by the Home Office up to 25th October 2013 are evaluated under the old rules.

The New Rules

If you have to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the English language and knowledge of life in the UK to get settlement, you will be subject to these rules. For settlement under the rules or naturalisation, you must prove that you have:

  • Sufficient knowledge of the English language; and
  • Sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom.

Knowledge about life in the UK

To demonstrate sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom you must pass the Life in the UK Test. (In the Channel Islands, the 'Citizenship Test'.)

It is no longer possible to rely on an ESOL with Citizenship materials qualification.

Knowledge of the English language

You can demonstrate you have sufficient knowledge of English in one of three ways:

  • Nationality of a certain country
  • Academic qualification in English, or
  • English language test.


If you are a national of one of the following countries then you pass the English language qualification by providing your passport.

  • 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
  • United States

Academic Qualification

The academic qualification must be from one of the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Ireland; Jamaica; New Zealand; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and The Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; the UK; the USA. It must be at the level which UK NARIC considered equivalent to a BA, MA or PhD in the UK. Alternatively, you can use an academic qualification awarded in any country, provided it is of degree level or higher, and the degree was taught or researched in English. The qualification must be academic. You cannot use vocational or professional qualifications.

English Language Test

There are two possible routes here:

  • From anywhere in the world you may pass an English language test in speaking and listening at a minimum of B1 of the CEFR.
  • From England, Wales or Northern Ireland you may obtain an ESOL qualification which includes speaking and listening and is at ESOL Entry level 3, level 1, level 2 or level 3. (In Scotland, SCQF level 4, 5 or 6.)

A list of approved test providers is on the Home Office website: Appendix KoLL of the Immigration Rules can be found on the Home Office website.


Applicants aged below 18 or 65 or over on the date of the application, are exempt from the knowledge requirements. If you have a mental or physical condition and it would be unreasonable to expect you to fulfill the knowledge requirements, the caseworker may grant an exception on an individual basis. Physical or mental illness does not by itself mean that you will be granted an exception. The condition must permanently stop you studying for or taking the test. You should provide evidence of the attempts you have made to access learning despite your condition (for example if you have previously enrolled on a course but were unable to complete it or take part, you should provide documentary proof of that) and medical evidence must be from an independent source, e.g. an appropriately qualified medical practitioner.

15 Years Residence - Reduced Requirements

Finally, you may qualify for a reduction (not a complete exemption) in the English language requirement to level A2 CEFR if you have completed 15 years residence in one of the following categories and you are now applying for settlement in that category:

  • Partners and children of people in the UK to work (including Points Based System migrants, and other working categories under the Rules including closed categories e.g. work permit / HSMP)
  • Partners and children of a retired person of independent means
  • Partners under the pre-July 2012 rules (before Appendix FM)
  • Child of settled parents / parent given limited leave with a view to settlement
  • Partners under Appendix FM
  • Parents under Appendix FM

To qualify for the reduction, you must have an English language speaking and listening qualification at A2 CEFR, or ESOL level 2 or SCQF level 3, and have provided evidence from your English language teacher that you have tried to learn English but are unable to obtain a qualification at B1 CEFR.


This article is a summary of the law and does not reflect all possible detail. If you require legal advice on your individual situation you should instruct a regulated adviser. If you have any queries or require further information please contact us.  

Alexander Finch, Senior Adviser
© Passportia Limited

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