What is English language requirement for UK visa
The English Language requirement is where the immigration rules require an applicant on a particular visa route to show that they have a specified level of English language ability.
The level of English language required of an applicant is set out in the rules for the relevant visa category under the heading ‘English language requirement’. The rules on how the requirement can be met are set out in Appendix English Language in the Immigration Rules.
Required level of English language
The levels come from the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). There are 4 components that are tested: • reading • writing • speaking • listening.
Family visas, Indefinite Leave to Remain, British Citizenship applications, require only two components: speaking and listening. Skilled Worker, Innovator, Scale-up, and also some other visa categories, require 4 components: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
The required level and CEFR component for each visa route are set out in the rules for the route under the heading “English language requirement”. The CEFR levels that can be required for UK immigration and nationality applications are listed below from lowest level at the top to the highest at the bottom of the list:
You need to check the immigration rules for your particular visa category to establish what level of English language and in which components is required.
Some visa routes, such as Global Business Mobility (GBM) formerly known as Intra Company Transfer visas, do not require English language for the visa application.
How can you meet English language requirement
There are a number of ways that visa applicants can meet the English language requirement for UK visa application. Most common ways to meet the English language are:
- pass an approved English language test (SELT); or
- have an academic degree taught in English; or
- be a national of a majority English speaking country.
National of a majority English speaking country
You can find the list of majority English speaking countries at EL 4.1 of Appendix English Language. Nationals of countries such as the United States, New Zealand, Australia can prove their English language simply by showing evidence of their nationality.
Academic degree taught in English
Home Office will need to see and check the evidence of the award of your degree. It can be a degree certificate, official transcript or letter from the awarding institution containing the equivalent information is acceptable evidence of a degree. You must also check whether the degree satisfies the requirements to show it an academic degree and was taught in English.
In addition to evidence of the obtained degree, applicants may also need to obtain and submit confirmations from ECCTIS.
Met English language requirement in a previous application
The previous application must have been successful and must show that you met the required level of English language ability on the visa route you are now applying for.
Pass a secure English language test (SELT)
Secure English Language Test (SELT) is a common way to meet the English language requirement for UK visa. The applicant must have scored at least the minimum level required for the route in each relevant component of the test. Home Office will check that the test is an approved test with an approved provider at the date the test was taken. SELTs are valid for 2 years.
GCSE, A-Level or Scottish equivalent in English
The GCSE, A-Level or Scottish equivalent in English option to meet the English language requirement applies only to those on the following routes: Student, Skilled Worker, Start-up, Innovator, High potential individual, Scale-up and those applying for settlement on the Private Life route and on the Settlement – Family route after a 10 year qualifying period.
Applicants cannot rely on GCSE or A-levels gained through adult education or correspondence courses. Home Office will check that the qualification is in English literature or English language – qualifications in other subjects are not accepted.
Home Office will also check that the qualification was issued by an Ofqual, SQA, Qualifications Wales or CCEA regulated awarding body in the UK.
Additional options to meet English language requirement for Student
Student sponsors must assess their students’ English language ability to make sure they meet the English language requirement before issuing a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
Assessed by a Higher Education Provider (HEP)
If the applicant says they have been assessed by a Higher Education Provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance the evidence will have to be on the CAS.
The CAS must confirm either that they have English language at level B2 or, if they have a combined CAS which includes a pre-sessional course, they have a passed a SELT at level B1 and the CAS confirms they will reach level B2 by the end of the course.
Applicant is exempt from part of the SELT due to disability
Where the applicant has been exempted from part of the SELT by the test provider due to a disability, you must check on the CAS that the sponsor confirms they have sufficient level of English language ability to complete their course
Short term study abroad programme
If the applicant says they are studying in the UK on a short term study abroad programme they must be studying in the USA and the course must lead to them gaining a qualification from the overseas Higher Education Institution at least equivalent level to a UK bachelor’s degree.
Gifted student concession
The English language requirement does not apply to applicants who are considered to be ‘gifted students’ by their Student sponsor. To qualify as a gifted student, they must meet both of the following requirements: • the applicant must have been offered a place on a course at RQF level 6 or above, or SCQF level 9 or above, at a HEP with a track record of compliance • the CAS must have been authorised by the academic registrar of the institution, and the academic registrar must confirm that they have personally approved the waiving of the English language requirement.
If an applicant is a gifted student, Home Office will check that this is recorded on the CAS (no need to see a letter from the college or university).
Additional options to meet English language requirement for Skilled Worker visa
Applicant is being sponsored to work as a doctor, dentist, nurse, or midwife
If anapplicant is being sponsored to work as a doctor, dentist, nurse, or midwife they will meet the English language requirement if they have passed an English language assessment which is accepted as a requirement for registration by the relevant regulated professional body in the United Kingdom.
• 2211 – Medical Practitioners • 2215 – Dental Practitioners • 2231 – Nurses; and • 2232 – Midwives
Veterinary professional regulation
If an applicant is being sponsored to work as a veterinary professional, they will meet the English language requirement if they have passed an English language assessment which is accepted as a requirement for registration by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) regulated professional body in the United Kingdom. This applies to applicants applying to enter or stay as a Skilled Worker under SOC code 2216.
The applicant must confirm that they have met the RCVS’s English language requirements as part of their registration application.
Exemptions from English language for applications for settlement
Exemption from English language requirement applies when the Applicant is aged under 18 or 65 or over on the date of application (which is calculated according to the definition of ‘date of application’ in paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules) do not need to meet the English language requirement.
An applicant is exempt from meeting the English language requirement if they have a disability (a physical or mental condition) that prevents them from meeting the requirement.
Examples of when an applicant will be exempt is where Home Office is satisfied the applicant:
• is suffering from a long-term or ongoing illness or disability (which may last for years) that severely restricts their ability to learn English or to take the test
• is suffering from a serious or life threatening illness such as cancer, which may involve treatment over the course of several months that severely restricts their ability to learn English or to take the test
• has a mental condition which prevents them from speaking or learning English to the required standard
Test centres can cater for a variety of disabilities, such as blindness. An applicant may be able to do the test even if they produce evidence of a disability if reasonable adjustments are possible.
Evidence of physical or mental condition If an applicant claims to have a physical or mental condition, they must provide current medical evidence from a medical practitioner. There is no specified evidence for the medical exemption under Appendix English Language. This could include a letter from a registered medical practitioner in the UK, or the medical waiver proforma. Each application must be considered on its own merits and will depend on the facts in each case.
Settlement on the family route: unable to meet after 15 years
A person applying for settlement as a partner, parent or dependent child aged over 18 may be exempt from meeting the required (B1) level of English language ability. To be eligible for this exemption the applicant must meet all of the following:
• have spent a continuous period of 15 years in the UK with valid permission
• show a speaking and listening qualification in English at level A2 CEFR, ESOL entry level 2 or Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework level 3
• provide confirmation from a qualified English teacher that the applicant has attended an English language class for at least 75 guided learning hours (not unsupervised study or preparation time) in the 12 months immediately before the date of application and the teacher’s view is the applicant is unlikely to attain B1 level through further study.