List of Home Office Approved Secure English language tests (SELT) in 2021

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In this free video series, we discuss:

  • The financial requirement
  • The online application form
  • Document translations
  • The adequate accommodation requirement
  • The English language requirement
  • Dependent children requirement
  • The unmarried partner visa requirement
  • Other partner visa requirements

The following is a list of Home Office approved Secure English Language Tests (SELT) for UK visas in 2021:

  • IELTS Life Skills provided by IELTS SELT Consortium (A1, A2, B1)
  • IELTS for UKVI provided by IELTS SELT Consortium (B1, B2, C1, C2)
  • Integrated Skills in English provided by Trinity College London (A2, B1, B2, C1, C2)
  • Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) provided by Trinity College London (A1, A2, B1)
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT (Speaking & Listening) (A1, A2, B1)
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT (Speaking, Listening, Reading & Writing) (B1, B2, C1,, C2)
  • Pearson PTE Home (A1, A2, B1)
  • Pearson PTE Academic UKVI  (A2, B1, B2, C1, C2)

This list is based on Appendix O of the Immigration Rules.

This article is separated in to several parts:

Part 1: Do you need to take an English language test?

Part 2: What is the minimum level of English language test that you should take?

Part 3: How do I book the Home Office approved Secure English Language Test (SELT)?

Part 4: What documents do I need to include in order to meet the English language requirement for UK visas?

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part 1

Do you need to take a Home Office approved English language test?

Consideration 1 – What visa do you wish to apply for?

The following is a list of visas that have an English language requirement that can be satisfied by sitting an English language test:

Consideration 2 – Are you exempt from the English language test?

An applicant (i.e. the person who is applying for the visa) who falls into the following will not be required to satisfy the English language requirement:

  • Domestic violence victims;
  • Discharged HM Forces foreign and Commonwealth citizens (this includes Gurkhas);
  • Widowed partners of those who were settled in the UK,
  • Parents, grandparents, dependent relatives of those with British citizenship or settlement in the UK, applying under paragraph 317 of the Immigration Rules;
  • Adult dependent relatives applying under Appendix FM (even if they are over 18 years or under 64 years);
  • Retired persons of independent means;
  • Refugees applying for indefinite leave to remain;
  • Those given discretionary leave to remain applying for indefinite leave to remain;
  • Those given humanitarian protection applying for indefinite leave to remain;
  • Those given leave outside the rules (ie. Gurkhas, widows, overage dependents, orphans given discretionary arrangements) now applying for indefinite leave to remain;
  • Those under 18 years old or over 65 years old on the date they send their application;
  • Those who can prove they have a medical condition (physical or mental) which stops them from learning English to the standard needed.

#1 Physical or mental disability requirement

If the person applying claims it would be unreasonable for them to meet the English language requirement due to a physical or mental illness, then the Home Office may exercise discretion in relation to the English language requirement.

“When can discretion be exercised?”

The Home Office must apply discretion if:

  • the applicant has been diagnosed with a long term physical condition which stops them learning English; and
  • the applicant has been diagnosed with a mental condition which means they cannot speak or learn English to the standard needed.

“When will discretion be exercised?”

The Home Office caseworker will consider how the illness would stop the person applying from meeting the requirement.

Discretion would be appropriate in the following circumstances:

  • the person applying is deaf;
  • the person applying is mute;
  • the person applying has a speech impediment which makes talking difficult.

Every application is considered on its merits.

#2 Age Exemption

The applicant will be exempt from the English language requirement if they are aged 65 years or over on the date that the application is submitted (by paying the Home Office fees).

Consideration 3 – Is there an easier or quicker way than sitting the English language test?

For partner visas, the English language test is not the only way to satisfy the English language requirement.

In some instances, there will be an easier and/or quicker way of satisfying the English language requirement.

#1 Relying on a degree level or above qualification that was taught in English

A qualification that is degree level or above (that was taught in English) may be sufficient in order to meet the English language requirement.

The degree will be acceptable if:

  • it is an academic qualification; and
  • the UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) accepts the qualification as an equivalent of a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD in the UK; and
  • it was taught in English or studied in a majority English-speaking country (not including Canada).

If your degree level or above qualification was taught in the UK, the submission of the degree certificate alone will usually be sufficient in order to meet the English language requirement.

If, however, your english-taught degree was obtained from an academic institutions from outside the UK, in order to rely on that degree to satisfy the English language requirement, you will also have to obtain documentation from UK NARIC who can provide the applicant with documentation that can be submitted alongside the degree certificate in order to satisfy the English language requirement.

With this being said, we find that most applicants who have an English taught degree that was awarded outside the UK find it easier just to sit a Secure English language test rather than going through the UK NARIC process.

#2 Majority English-speaking Nationals

If you are a national from one of the following countries listed below, it will be exceptionally easy for you to meet the English language requirement:

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 and the United States of America.

Why?

Because paragraph 28 of Appendix FM-SE of the Immigration Rules makes it clear that it is sufficient to submit a passport in order to meet the English language requirement.

appendix fm se paragraph 28

But what if your passport has been lost or stolen, has expired and been returned to the relevant authorities or if it is with another department of the Home Office?

In such a case, you should make this clear in the application form.

If it is made clear that this it the case, then the Home Office caseworker can then accept a current national identity document or a letter from the applicant’s national government, Embassy or High Commission confirming the applicant’s name, date of birth and nationality.

If you have multiple nationalities, including a nationality that falls within the majority English speaking country, then you can rely on that particular nationality in order to meet the English language requirement.

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part 2

What is the minimum level of Home Office approved Secure English language test that you should take?

Consideration 1 – What visa are you applying for?

Partner visas (including spouse visas, FLR(M) visas, unmarried partner visas, fiancé(e) visas)

Entry clearance or initial leave applications:

Level A1 CEFR (unless exempt)

Example #1

Pam is applying for a UK spouse visa from Cambodia.

She has never been issued a UK partner visa before.

For her first application, the required CEFR level will A1.

Example #2

Abhi is an Indian national who is currently in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa.

Since he would like to switch into the partner category, the required CEFR level will be A1.

Fiancé(e) or proposed civil partners who are extending their visa in the UK via the FLR(M) route

Level A1 CEFR

Example

Patricia came to the UK on the 1st January 2021 on a UK fiance visa.

Patricia’s visa, as is usually the case for fiancé(e) visas, is valid for 6 months.

Patricia has already passed the A1 test and can re-use the same certificate for her FLR(M) application (which should be submitted prior to the 6 months expiring in the UK).

Leave to remain visas where the applicant is extending their 33 or 30 month partner visa:

Level A2 CEFR

Example

Max previously applied for entry clearance as a spouse.

He satisfied the English language requirement by passing an A1 English test.

He is now due to apply for further leave to remain as a spouse as his visa is about to expire.

Max will require to pass the a Level A2 CEFR English test.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

The level of English test required is entirely dependent on the path you used to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

The applicant will be exempt from satisfying the English language requirement if they are applying for ILR under the following categories:

  • as a refugee;
  • as someone who has been issued with humanitarian protection;
  • as someone who has been issued with discretionary leave to remain; or
  • as a victim of domestic violence.

If the applicant is not exempt, then the level that they will be required to sit and pass is Level B1 CEFR.

British Citizenship

If applying for British citizenship, the level you require to pass is Level B1 CEFR.

If you are a non-EEA national, you will probably have already passed this when applying for indefinite leave to remain.

However, if you are an EEA national, you may not have already passed the B1 test or above and therefore will need to do so in order to meet the English language requirement (if you cannot meet the requirement via another way such as being a majority English speaking national).

Tier 2 (General) Visa

If applying for a Tier 2 (General) visa, the level you require to sit and pass is Level B1 CEFR.

Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) Visa

If applying for a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa, the level you require to sit and pass is Level B2 CEFR.

Tier 2 (Sportsperson) Visa

If applying for a Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa, the level you require to sit and pass is Level A1 CEFR.

Tier 4 (Student) Visa

If applying for a Tier 4 (Student) visa, the level you require to sit and pass is Level B2 CEFR.

If, however, you are applying to study a course that is below degree level, then the level you require to sit and pass is Level B1 CEFR.

Consideration 2 – What is your English language ability like?

If you have an advanced level of English, then you may wish to consider sitting a test at a higher level than needed if you’re applying for a partner visa.

Whilst the minimum level required for partner visas can be as low as A1, spouse visa extensions require A2 whilst ILR and British citizenship applications require B1.

Therefore, where the applicant is required to pass an A1 English language test, they can sit an A2 or B1 English language test and then rely on that same English language test for future applications.

This is because of paragraph 32D of Appendix FM-SE which states that applicants can reuse their English certificate test certificate in subsequent applications in the following circumstances:

  • if it is from a provider which is not on the approved list anymore, or
  • if it is from a provider which is still approved but the particular test taken with the provider is no longer approved, or
  • if it was taken in a test centre which is no longer approved, or
  • if it is past its expiry date.

There are, however, a few things to consider:

  • The applicant will only be able to reuse their English test certificate if they had ‘continuous leave’ since their last partner visa application; and
  • The applicant will not be able to reuse their English test certificate if the Home Office caseworker has doubts about the manner in which the test was taken or obtained.

‘Continuous leave’ is when the applicant extends the partner visa on time and had no periods of uncertain or illegal immigration status.

Example

Terry applied for his initial leave to remain as a partner in the UK in May 2016. Knowing that he can re-use the test, he sat the B1 English test.

Terry submitted the FLR(M) application prior to his partner visa’s expiry date.

His visa did not expire and he is deemed to have continuous leave to remain.

He therefore was allow to reuse the same B1 English language test that he used in a previous application.

Consideration 3 – Are you located inside the UK or outside the UK?

If the applicant is inside the UK, they can take the tests listed below:

  • Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) by Trinity College London (A1, A2, B1)
  • Integrated Skills in English (ICE) by Trinity College London (A2, B1, B2, C1, C2)
  • IELTS Life Skills (Speaking and Listening) by IELTS SELT Consortium (A1, A2, B1)
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT (Speaking and listening) by LanguageCert (A1, A2, B1)
  • Pearson PTE Home by Pearson Education Ltd (A1, A2, B1)
  • Pearson PTE Academic UKVI by Pearson Education Ltd (B1, B2, C1, C2)

If the applicant is outside the UK, they can take the tests listed below:

  • IELTS Life Skills (Speaking & listening) by IELTS SELT Consortium (A1, A2, B1).
  • IELTS for UKVI by IELTS SELT Consortium (B1, B2, C1, C2)
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT (Speaking & Listening) by LanguageCert  (A1, A2, B1)
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT (Listening, Reading, Writing & Speaking) by LanguageCert (B1, B2, C1, C2)
  • Pearson PTE Home by Pearson Education Ltd (A1, A2, B1)
  • Pearson PTE Academic UKVI by Pearson Education Ltd (B1, B2, C1, C2)

part 3
How do I book the Home Office Approved Secure English Language Test (SELT)?

How do I book a Trinity Test?

Trinity tests are booked using their online booking system.

You must input the same details which are on your passport or identity document when booking the test.

You can book your Trinity test here.

How do I book an IELTS test?

IELTS tests are booked using their online booking system.

Again, you must input the same details which are on your passport or identity document when booking the test.

IELTS test centres are located all over the world including the UK. In order to locate your closest IELTS Life Skills test centre click here.

You can book your IELTS test here.

part 4

Which documents do I need to include in order to satisfy the English language requirement for UK visas?

#1 If you are relying on being exempt due to being 65 years of age or over

If you are relying on being exempt from the English language requirement due to being over 65 years of age on the date of application, then you must provide confirmation of this.

The proof should be in the form of a passport or birth certificate.

#2 If you are relying on being exempt due to a physical or mental condition

If you are relying on being exempt from the English language requirement due to suffering from a long term physical or mental condition, then you must provide proof of this when you apply for settlement or British citizenship.

The proof should be in the form of satisfactory medical evidence from a medical practitioner who is qualified in the appropriate field.

This evidence must set out the relevant physical or mental condition and from which it may be concluded that exemption on those grounds is justified.

#3 If you are relying on having previously passed an approved English language test

You will require to provide a unique reference number (URN) or a copy of the English language test certificate.

#4 If you are relying on a degree qualification that was taught in English and awarded outside the UK

If you are relying on a degree qualification (or above) that was taught in English outside the UK, in addition to the Degree certificate, you must provide evidence from UK NARIC.

With this being said, most partners just find it easier to sit an English language test rather than having to go through the UK NARIC process.

#5 If you are relying on a UK degree that was awarded in the UK to satisfy the English language requirement

If you are relying on a UK degree or above qualification to meet the English language requirement, then you must provide your degree certificate.

However, if have lost the degree or are awaiting graduation, you can provide:

  • an academic letter from the University on headed paper stating your name, the name of your award, asserting your award was taught in English, the award was/will be granted, and the date the degree was issued or confirmation that the original cannot be reissued, or
  • an academic transcript on headed paper stating your name, the name of the University, the name of the course, confirmation the degree was taught in English and that said degree has been awarded.

#6 If you are a national of a majority English-speaking country

If you are a national of a majority English-speaking country, then you must provide a valid passport or travel document.

If you are unable to provide this, because your passport has been either been lost, stolen or is with the Home Office, you can provide:

  • a valid identity document
  • a letter from your government/Embassy/High Commission confirming your name, date of birth and your nationality.

 

 Frequently Asked Questions 

What happens if I do not take the correct test?

Unfortunately, if you rely on the wrong test, it is likely that your application will be refused.

Do I have to take the English language test before we submit the online application?

If you rely on an English language test to satisfy the financial requirement, you will have to sit the test prior to submitting the online application.

What happens if I do not sit the test at a Home Office approved test centre?

It is a requirement for those who rely on an English language test to satisfy the financial requirement for the test to be sat at a Home Office approved centre. If the test is not taken at an approved centre, the English language test cannot be relied on.

How long are English language tests valid for?

The English language tests are valid for two years.

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