You don’t need to prove your knowledge of English in certain circumstances.
Your citizenship or settlement application will be refused if you send the wrong qualifications.
If you need more time
If you’re already in the UK you may be able to extend your permission to stay, so that you can prove your knowledge of English.
Check the guide for your current visa for instructions on how to apply for an extension.
Who doesn’t need to prove their knowledge of English
You don’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re:
- aged 65 or over
- unable to, because of a long-term physical or mental condition
You must provide a completed exemption form or letter from a doctor confirming your physical or mental condition.
Nationalities that are exempt
You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a citizen of:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- New Zealand
- Republic of Ireland (for citizenship only)
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
If you’re from a country that’s not on the list you’ll need to prove your knowledge of English, even if English is an official language.
If you’re applying for citizenship
There are no other exemptions if you’re applying to become a British citizen. You must have a relevant English language qualification even if you were exempt when you were granted settlement.
Exemptions if you’re applying to settle
You don’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re applying as:
- a victim of domestic violence as the partner or spouse of a British citizen or someone settled in the UK
- the partner or spouse of a person who has died who was either a British citizen or someone settled in the UK
- an adult dependent relative between 18 and 64 of someone who is present and settled in the UK, is a refugee or has humanitarian protection
- a refugee living in the UK
- someone living in the UK with discretionary leave
- someone living in the UK for with humanitarian protection
- someone who has permission to stay in the UK as a retired person of independent means
- a Commonwealth citizen on discharge from HM Forces, including Gurkhas
- a highly skilled migrant applying under the terms of the highly skilled migrant program (HSMP) judicial review and your dependants
- someone in exceptional circumstances, eg as an orphan, widow or over-age dependant
Approved English language qualifications
You can prove your knowledge of English by having a recognised English test qualification from an approved test centre.
You need to have a certificate to prove you have the qualification, or be able to view your results online.
You can only use English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualifications if they’re on the list. You can’t use other qualifications, eg GCSEs, A levels or National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs).
If your qualification has run out
Some recognised test qualifications only last for 2 years. You can still use a B1 level qualification that you took more than 2 years ago in 2 situations.
Applying for citizenship
You can use a B1 level qualification that’s run out if you’re applying for citizenship and it was accepted when you settled in the UK.
It doesn’t matter if the B1 level test you took isn’t on the current list of recognised tests. You don’t need to take another test.
Applying to settle in the UK
You can use a B1 level qualification that’s run out if both of the following are true:
- it’s on the current list of recognised tests
- it was accepted for another UK immigration application, eg when you got permission to enter
If your degree was taught or researched in English
You can prove your knowledge of English by having a degree that was taught or researched in English.
If you have a degree from a UK university, you only need your original degree certificate.
If your degree isn’t from a UK university, you’ll need your original degree certificate and one of the following:
- an original letter or certificate from UK NARIC confirming the equivalent level of your degree, plus an official letter from your university with your name and degree confirming that your degree was taught in English
- an original and official certificate from your university confirming the degree was taught or researched in a majority English-speaking country (except Canada)
If you’ve lost your certificate or you’re waiting for graduation
You must have proof that you’ve passed your degree. This can be either:
- an original and official transcript with your name, the name of the institution, your degree and confirmation of the award
- an original and official letter from your university confirming it can’t reissue your certificate or when it will be issued
Your letter must include:
- your name
- your degree
- the date the degree was or will be awarded