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9 May 2024

Proof of English language requirement to get a UK visa

Proving your English language ability is an important part of many visa applications. Find out more about the requirements you must meet in our guide.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
A blackboard with: 'Do you speak English?' written on it in white chalk, with a Union Jack next to it, so as to represent the English Language requirement for a UK visa.

As the UK is the home of the English language, people may find it difficult to get by in daily life without having an understanding of it if they are from a country where English is not commonly spoken. 

Many different immigration applications, such as the Skilled Worker Visa, Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), and citizenship, require that you provide proof of your English language abilities by doing a secure English language test (SELT).

The test simply allows you to show that you meet the English language requirements of the visa you have applied for, and proves to the Home Office that you will be able to live in Britain without any issues.

Read on to learn about the different requirements, how you can prove your English language ability, how you might be exempt from providing proof, and how we can help you.

Types of English language requirement tests

There are various different UK visa English language requirements, so you will be asked to do different tests depending on your visa. Some visas have more in-depth tests than others. 

The following visas require you to do a full test that covers your reading, writing, speaking and listening abilities:

However, other visas and routes require that you just do a speaking and listening test. These are:

Please note that Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship applications will also require you to pass a Life in the UK test before you can get either status. 

English language levels

Different visas require that you have a different level of English knowledge as a minimum. The levels are from the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). A1 is the lowest level, whilst C2 is the highest outside of being a native, fluent speaker. 

For example, the English language requirement for Skilled Worker Visas will require you to have at least a B1 level of English knowledge.

Meanwhile, the English language requirement for ILR can be at a level of B1 or above as well. 

How to take the test

First, you will have to find an approved test centre that is close to you. You can find a list on the Government’s website of all approved centres for English tests.

There are five approved providers of SELT tests.

The approved providers are:

You will have to visit the website of one of the above providers to book your test.

There may be times where the centre your test has been booked at is not near you, so you should prepare to travel. 

If you are applying from outside of the UK, then your country may not have an approved test centre, which may mean you will have to travel to a nearby country to do your test. 

On the day of the test, you will need to provide proof of your identity, such as a passport or a driver’s licence. 

Then, you will just need to sit the test and hopefully pass it. If you fail a section, you may be able to retake it. 

After passing the test

Once you have passed the test, you will be given a SELT number unique to you. You will need to use this number when you apply for your visa, ILR, or citizenship. 

Your result is valid for two years.

Alternatives to doing the English language test

Whilst the test is an option available to everyone, some people may have an alternative way to fulfil the English language requirement of their application. 

If you have completed a degree in an English speaking country that is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above, then you can use it as proof. Please note that Canada does not count as an English-majority country regarding university degrees. 

Also, degrees taught in English that are from countries where English is not the majority language can also be used to prove your English language skills. 

For either of the above, you will need to use Ecctis to prove that your degree is equivalent to a UK degree. They will give you a letter that shows this. 

We have a guide to using your degree as proof of English ability if you would like to learn more. 

Exemptions to the English language requirement

There are some situations where you may be completely exempt from the English language requirement altogether. 

If you are under 18, over 65, or from a predominantly English speaking country, then you will not have to take the test.

A full list of countries exempt from the English language requirement:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • the British overseas territories
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Ireland (for citizenship only, as Irish citizens do not need a visa to enter the UK)
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

How we can help

Unfortunately, there is not much we can do to help you prepare for your test and fulfil the English language requirement. However, what we can do is help you with applying for your visa, ILR, or citizenship. 

Our expert law team has helped countless clients with their applications, and they can help you too. 

You can book a free 10-minute assessment to discuss your situation, which also allows our team to see if they can help you or not. After this, you can arrange a longer, paid consultation which will last either 30 minutes, or an hour. The 30 minute option is generally long enough for most matters, and is also our cheaper option. 

Get in touch with us today if you would like our help with your application.

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