Approved English Language Tests

Most immigration categories now require an applicant to prove they can speak and understand English to a minimum level.


What are the requirements?

For family applications, this requirement starts at level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), moving to A2 CEFR for an extension application and, finally, B1 CEFR for settlement.

For most work related and study routes, B1 CEFR is the minimum English language ability needed to enter into that route, but there are exceptions: for sole representatives of an overseas business it’s A1, for ministers of religion it’s B2.

How else can I prove my knowledge of English?

Where someone cannot meet the English language requirement through being a citizen of a majority English speaking country or by having a relevant degree taught in English, they are required to sit an English language test approved by UKVI (also known as a Secure English Language Test – SELT).

Currently, in the UK the following providers are approved:

  • Trinity College London
  • IELTS SELT Consortium
  • LanguageCert
  • Pearson
  • Outside the UK, the following are approved:

    • IEL
    • TS SELT Consortium
    • LanguageCert
    • Pearson

    When booking an English language test for immigration purposes, it is always important to check that the centre you are sitting the test at is approved. For example, some IELTS tests can be sat at centres and colleges which do not offer SELT tests; thus, they are not approved by UKVI. You can check whether a centre is on UKVI’s approved list here.

Which test do I need to book?

Even when you are confident that the centre you will be sitting the test at is approved, you also need to ensure you have booked to take a SELT. This causes unnecessary confusion for applicants. Each provider has a list of tests which they are approved to offer, and availability can differ between test centres run by the same provider. For example, IELTS General and Academic tests can be booked as both SELTs and non-secured tests. Even though the tests are probably identical in content, only the SELT will produce a Unique Reference Number (URN), which will need to be included as part of the visa application process. If your test doesn’t include this number, it is unlikely to be a SELT test; thus, will not be accepted by UKVI in the visa application. This will normally lead to refusal of an application.

Another important point to remember is that most of the approved tests are only valid for two years. It may be that a new test will be needed at a later stage of the application process, although there are some exceptions to this. Again, the position is confusing, and it’s important to get it right.

If you would like to find out more about how the English language requirement may apply to you, arrange an appointment with one of our solicitors now. You can contact our offices by calling 0161 234 6800 (Manchester and London) or 0151 305 9600 (Liverpool).

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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 08/09/2020