This relates to UK Spouse Visa English Language Test Requirements and Exemptions under Appendix FM for Family Members of the Immigration Rules. Accordingly, the post explains: how an applicant can avail exemptions from meeting the UK spouse visa English requirements? And if an applicant can’t avail exemptions then how to meet the CEFR Level A-1, A-2 and B-1 English Language requirements for UK spouse/partner visa for entry clearance, extension and ILR (settlement) applications, respectively?
UK Spouse Visa English Language Requirements
For the initial 30 months UK spouse visa entry clearance or leave to remain application, an applicant needs to demonstrate a minimum English Language proficiency of CEFR Level A1. Accordingly, the paragraph E-ECP.4.1. of Appendix FM relates to the manner in which an applicant can meet the English Language Requirements. And the paragraph E-ECP.4.2. provides the details of availing exemptions from UK spouse visa English Test requirements. Therefore, if none of the exemptions are available then in terms of Paragraph E-ECP.4.2.(b) , an applicant needs to furnish a Secure English Language Test (SELT) with a minimum CEFR Level A1 for speaking and listening.
Since Jan 2016, for the subsequent 30 months extension application an applicant needs to meet a min CEFR Level A2, instead of A1, for speaking and listening.
Non-EEA national partners and parents on the family route will need to pass a speaking and listening test at level A2 in order to qualify, after two-and-a half-years in the UK, for further leave to remain on the five-year partner or parent route to settlementHome Office
Settlement or ILR Application
From October 2013, migrants applying for spouse settlement (ILR) need to meet CEFR level B1 in speaking and listening skills. And also need to pass the Life in the UK test.
Exemptions from UK Spouse Visa English Test
Apparently, an applicant can avail exemption from UK spouse visa English test requirements due to age, disability and exceptional circumstances. Moreover, a National of Majority English Speaking Country and an applicant who has a degree taught in English can also avail exemption from UK spouse visa English Test requirements.
If an applicant is above 65 years of age then he/she is exempt from UK spouse visa English Test requirements.
If a mental or physical disability prevents an applicant to meet the UK spouse visa English Test requirements then the applicant can avail the exemption.
UK Spouse Visa Test Exemption due to Exceptional Circumstances
If there are exceptional circumstances, which prevents an applicant to meet the UK spouse visa English Test requirements then the applicant can avail exemptions. However, in such instances, the applicant is likely get a leave to enter or remain under the 10-year family route.
A National of Majority English Speaking Country
If an applicant is a national of a majority English speaking country then is exempt from UK spouse visa English Language Test requirements. However, needs to provide a valid passport or travel document for availing the exemption. Moreover, if the passport or travel document is lost or stolen, expired or returned to the relevant immigration authority or with another department of the Home Office then the applicant can provide a current national identity document or a letter from the applicant’s national government, Embassy or High Commission confirming the applicant’s full name, date of birth and nationality
The evidence required to show that a person is a citizen or national of a majority English speaking country is a valid passport or travel document…..APPENDIX FM-SE
List of Majority English Speaking Countries
|Antigua and Barbuda||Guyana|
|The Bahamas||New Zealand|
|Barbados||St Kitts and Nevis|
|Canada||St Vincent and the Grenadines|
|Dominica||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Grenada||The United States of America|
Degree Taught or Researched in English
In terms of paragraph E-ECP.4.2.(c) of Appendix FM, if an applicant has a bachelor’s or master’s degree, PhD taught or researched in English in the UK then can avail the exemption. However, if an applicant has a Bachelor or Master’s degree taught in majority of English Speaking Country then needs to submit:
- A copy of the academic degree
- The Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC for confirming the academic level of the degree(s)
A Degree Taught in a Non-English Speaking Country
- A copy of the academic degree
- The Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UKNARIC for confirming the academic level (at-least Bachelor) of the degree
- The English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) for confirming the English proficiency level (such as A1, A2, B1) of an applicant’s Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
UK Spouse Visa English Language Tests
If none of the exemptions are available then an applicant needs to undertake a Secure English Language Test (SELT) for proving his/her English language speaking and listening skills. Accordingly, needs to score a minimum CEFR Level A1, A2 or B1 for UK spouse visa entry clearance, extension or ILR (settlement) application, respectively.
Perhaps, there are a number of approved English Language Tests for applicants. However, IELTS Life Skills and Trinity College’s Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) tests are specifically designed for meeting the UK spouse visa English Language requirements. In fact, for entry clearance applications, IELTS Life Skills test is quite popular because of its extensive network. However, GESE is a good option for leave to remain, extension and settlement applications.
What English Test is required for a Spouse Visa UK?
Perhaps, IELTS Life Skills is the most popular test for meeting the UK spouse visa English Language requirements for entry clearance application. The IELTS Life Skills test is designed to meet the specific immigration requirements under Appendix FM. Accordingly, an applicant only needs to demonstrate Speaking and Listening skills. In fact, two candidates take the IELTS Life Skills test. And the test taker simultaneously assesses the English Language speaking and listening skills of the candidates.
The time duration of IELTS Life Skills for CEFR Level A1 (entry clearance), A2 (extension or leave to remain) and B1 (ILR or settlement) is 16–18, 20 and 22 minutes, respectively. Moreover, there is no break between speaking and listening components. The cost of IELTS Life Skills test is mostly GBP150/- from inside the UK. However, depending on the service provider the IELTS Life Skills test fee may slightly vary from country to country. Perhaps, there is more than one registration method i.e. one can register with British Council or any other service provider such as AEO etc.
Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE)
Similar to IELTS Life Skills, the Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) of the Trinity College is also specifically designed for assessing the English Language Listening and Speaking skills of spouse visa applicants. Accordingly, an applicant for leave to remain, extension or ILR (settlement) application needs to pass the GESE test by securing Grade 2, 3 or 5, respectively. Therefore, GESE Grade 2, 3 and 5 is equivalent to CEFR Level A1, A2 and B1, respectively. Moreover, the time duration of GESE Grade 2, 3 and 5 tests is 6, 7 and 10 minutes, respectively. And the cost of GESE test is £150/- and an applicant gets the provisional result on the same day. However, Trinity College, usually, sends the Certificate within 7 days.