English Language Requirement for Family Members Entry Clearance

Unless you are a national of a Majority English Speaking Country or  are a long-term resident of a country with no test centre, and you are applying for a visa from that country, you are required to have passed an English language test for applications as a spouse, partner or fiancé or proposed civil partner joining a person already in the UK.

You will meet the English language requirement if you have passed an approved English language test at or above the appropriate level with one of the UKBA’s new-approved-english-tests only. The information in these lists is subject to change.

This means that:

  • where an applicant has a test at the specified level, but not from one of the listed providers, it cannot be accepted as evidence;
  • where an applicant has a test from an approved provider that is not listed, it cannot be accepted as evidence; or
  • where an applicant has achieved a test level with an approved provider that is not included on the list of tests it cannot be accepted, regardless of whether the provider has mapped their tests to this level to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) or not. While these tests may be used as evidence for other reasons,the UKBA cannot accept them because the provider has not asked that they include them in their list of tests and providers and they have not been assessed by them.  Examples of this are:

– evidence submitted that meets the specified CEFR level for the immigration route, but was not produced by any of the UKBA listed providers – this cannot be accepted. Only tests conducted by UKBA listed providers are acceptable in meeting the English language requirement for partners; or

– evidence has been submitted from one of the UKBA providers, but at a test level not specified on their list – this cannot be accepted. Only tests and test levels that are specifically included on the UKBA list are acceptable. Eg, if an international English Language Testing System (IELTS) test is received that shows a score below the B1 level specified in their list. This cannot be accepted as evidence of A1 proficiency because IELTS do not map below B1.

In the test, you will need to demonstrate a basic command of English (speaking and listening) at level A1 of the CEFR. This is a basic level, which is judged to require 40 to 50 hours’ tuition for most learners. Someone assessed at level A1 can understand and use simple, everyday expressions and very basic phrases. You will not need to demonstrate your reading and writing skills.

The UKBA will also accept approved tests in speaking and listening, or speaking and listening with additional skills such as reading or writing, at a higher level (if they are taken with an approved test provider and are on the approved list).

Tests can be taken in most countries, but there is an exemption for applicants from the small number of countries where there are no test centres.

You must pay for your own English language test. The cost of a test varies according to your test provider and country.

Alternatively, you will also meet the English language requirement if you can demonstrate that you have obtained an academic qualification (not a professional or vocational qualification) which the National Academic Recognition Information Centre for the UK (UK NARIC) has recognised as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree or a PhD that was taught in English.

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