Changed requirements for UK settlement and naturalisation
07 May 2013
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has announced plans to change the English language requirements for those applying for indefinite leave to remain (also called settlement) and naturalisation as British citizens.
Currently, applicants can either complete a 'Life in the UK' test OR achieve a qualification in English for Speakers of Other Languages at Entry levels 1, 2 or 3 from an accredited institution.
From 28 October 2013, settlement and naturalisation applicants will need to do two things: pass a 'Life in the UK' test at a secure test centre AND possess a B1 level or higher English language speaking and listening qualification. This will apply to anyone aged 18 or over applying for settlement, whether they are applying as a main applicant or as a dependant.
Exceptions to the two requirements will be made for people in vulnerable circumstances, those aged 65 or older and those who have who have a physical or mental condition that severely restricts their ability to learn English and/or communicate and/or take the 'Life in the UK' test.
The English language qualification must be one of the following:
- Qualifications covering speaking and listening at level B1 or above from the Secure English Language Test list in the Immigration Rules, Appendix O;
- Qualifications in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Entry levels 1, 2 or 3 that include speaking and listening and that have been regulated by Ofqual. The qualification must be listed as an ESOL qualification on the Ofqual Register of Regulated Qualifications and have been taken in England, Wales or Northern Ireland; or
- A National Qualification in ESOL at Scottish Qualifications Framework levels 4, 5 or 6 awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and taken in Scotland.
Applicants who are nationals of majority English-speaking countries (e.g. Australia and Canada) and those who have obtained a degree taught in English will not need to achieve an English language qualification. They will still need to pass a 'Life in the UK' test, however.
Those already in the UK under certain visa categories will be permitted to apply for an extension of their limited leave to remain to allow them to meet the English language requirement for settlement.
In a statement detailing these changes, the Home Office stated: "Understanding and being able to use English at a level which facilities interaction with the wider community is key to successful integration. It is also important that those wishing to live permanently in the UK have a basic understanding of the responsibilities which come with settlement, the principles of British democracy and the history and culture from which they flow."
Life in the UK