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English Test Requirement for Spouse Visa

In order to become eligible for a UK Spouse visa, you will have to satisfy the English language requirement. This may involve having to take an English language test.

For more information about the Spouse visa’s English language requirement, or any other UK immigration topic, reach out to one of our professional immigration lawyers on 0333 4149244, or contact us online.

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Overview of the English Test Requirement for Spouse Visa

All Spouse visa applicants must prove that they can speak and understand English to a certain degree.

For most applicants, this will mean having to take an approved English language test at a test centre and passing it at A1 level or higher.

However, certain applicants can meet the English language requirement without having to take a test.

For example, if you’re from a majority English-speaking country or have certain academic qualifications, you can meet the English language requirement without having to take a test.

There are also additional exceptions for those of a certain age, or those who are unable to meet the requirement.

Who Needs to Take an English Language Test?

As a Spouse visa applicant, you will need to undergo secure English language testing to prove your English language skills unless any of the following apply to you:

  • You’re a citizen of one of the eligible majority English-speaking countries
  • You have an eligible academic qualification that was taught or researched mainly in English
  • You’re aged 65 or over
  • You have a long-term physical or mental condition that prevents you from meeting the requirement
  • There are exceptional circumstances that prevent you from meeting the requirement prior to you coming to the UK

What Are the Guidelines for English Language Tests?

If you need to take an English language test to satisfy the language requirement for a Spouse visa, you must ensure that you take an approved secure English language test (SELT) from an approved provider.

This test must also be sat in one of the Home Office’s approved test centres, and been awarded no more than two years prior to the date of application for a Spouse visa.

The following are approved test providers and the names of their approved SELTs if you need to take your test in the UK:

  • Trinity College London: ‘Secure English Language Tests for UKVI’ – Integrated Skills in English (ISE) or Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE)
  • IELTS SELT Consortium: ‘IELTS for UKVI’ or ‘IELTS Life Skills’
  • LanguageCert: ‘LanguageCert International ESOL SELT’
  • Pearson: ‘PTE Academic UKVI’ or ‘PTE Home’

The following are approved test providers and the names of their approved SELTs if you need to take your test outside the UK:

  • PSI Services (UK) Ltd: ‘Skills for English UKVI’
  • IELTS SELT Consortium: ‘IELTS for UKVI’ or ‘IELTS Life Skills’
  • LanguageCert: ‘LanguageCert International ESOL SELT’
  • Pearson: ‘PTE Academic UKVI’ or ‘PTE Home’

What Level Do I Need to Pass My English Language Test At?

For your first Spouse visa application, you must pass your English language test at A1 level or higher for speaking and listening skills on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

The CEFR scale has six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. A1 is the lowest level of proficiency, while C2 is the highest.

English test for spouse visa extension

Note that if you wish to extend your Spouse visa to stay in the UK longer than 2.5 years, the minimum language pass threshold will raise to A2.

This means that if you passed your first test at A1 level, you will have to take another test to pass at A2 level.

However, if you passed your first test at A2 level or higher, you may reuse this test score again as long as your test certificate hasn’t been withdrawn by your test provider.

Similarly, if you wish to apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years, the minimum language pass threshold will raise again to B1 level.

You may once again reuse a previous test score if you’ve already passed at B1 level or higher and the test certificate hasn’t been withdrawn.

Contact us today if you require assistance with your Spouse visa application.

What Documents Do I Need for the English Language Test?

You will need to bring valid proof of identity when you take your English language test. This must:

  • Be current and valid
  • Be an original, not a photocopy
  • Include a photo of you
  • Match the information you gave when you booked the test

You may use any of the following as valid forms of identity:

  • Passport
  • UK Biometric Residence Permit
  • UK Biometric Residence Card
  • Convention travel document
  • Stateless persons travel document

You may also use an identity card for EEA nationals if taking the test in the UK or in the country where the identity card was issued.

You may also use a valid photographic government issued identity card if taking the test in the country where the identity card was issued.

What Happens After the Test?

After you complete the test, you will be given a SELT unique reference number.

You will need this reference number for your Spouse visa application as it’s proof of your test result.

SELT reference numbers also go under different names depending on which test provider you took your test with:

  • ‘UER’ for Trinity College London tests
  • ‘UKVI number’ for IELTS SELT Consortium tests
  • ‘Candidate URN’ for LanguageCert tests
  • ‘SELT URN’ for Pearson tests
  • ‘URN’ for PSI Skills for English tests

The Home Office will check your test results using your SELT reference number when you submit your application. You won’t have to submit any other documents at that time.

Which Countries Are Considered to be Majority English-Speaking?

You won’t have to take a test to prove your English language skills if you’re a national of a majority English-speaking country. These countries are as follows:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

What Are the Guidelines for Academic Qualifications?

Another way to be exempt from taking an English language test is to prove that you have an eligible academic qualification, which can be either:

  • A Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD awarded within the UK
  • An equivalent Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD awarded outside the UK that was mostly taught or researched in English

If your qualification was awarded in the UK, you’ll only need to show your degree certificate to satisfy the language requirement for the Spouse visa.

If your qualification was awarded outside the UK, you will have to provide a certificate from Ecctis to demonstrate that your degree meets the eligibility criteria.

This will either be a statement of comparability or a visa and nationality statement.

You’ll need a statement of comparability if your qualification was awarded in one of certain eligible countries.

If your qualification was awarded in any other country, you’ll need a visa and nationality statement instead.

Which Countries Require a Statement of Comparability?

You will need to get a statement of comparability from Ecctis if your academic qualification was awarded in any of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

If your qualification was awarded in any other country, you’ll need to get a visa and nationality statement instead.

What Are the Fees for English Language Tests?

The cost of English language tests may vary depending on the test provider, where you take your test, and at what level you’ll wish to aim for.

However, approved English language tests at A1 level will generally cost around £150 to take.

There are also costs involved if you need to get a certificate from Ecctis to validate your academic qualification.

If you need a statement of comparability, this will cost around £49.50.

If you need a visa and nationality statement, this will cost between either:

  • £140 to validate English proficiency
  • £210 to validate a PhD-level qualification with English proficiency

What Are the Fees for English Language Tests?

The cost of English language tests may vary depending on the test provider, where you take your test, and at what level you’ll wish to aim for.

However, approved English language tests at A1 level will generally cost around £150 to take.

There are also costs involved if you need to get a certificate from Ecctis to validate your academic qualification.

If you need a statement of comparability, this will cost around £49.50.

If you need a visa and nationality statement, this will cost between either:

  • £140 to validate English proficiency
  • £210 to validate a PhD-level qualification with English proficiency

How Can IAS Help?

To be eligible for entry into the UK under the immigration rules, many visa applicants will have to submit themselves for an English test. Spouse visa applicants in particular will also have to satisfy complex relationship, financial and accommodation requirements in addition to this.

If you require any assistance with your Spouse visa application, including what you need to do to meet the minimum English language requirement, or any of the other eligibility requirements, IAS can help.

We are expert immigration lawyers who have decades’ worth of experience in the field of UK visas and immigration.

We can help you determine your eligibility for the Spouse visa and assist with your application, including helping you to explore the best routes possible to satisfy the language requirement. Whether you need some expert guidance and tuition with your English language test, help in obtaining an Ecctis certificate, or if you need to prove that you’re exempt from the language requirements, we can help.

For more information about the services we provide and what we can do for you, reach out to us today on 0333 4149244, or contact us online.

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