UK Spouse Visa English Tests in 2024

What are the UK spouse visa English tests in 2024?

The UK spouse visa English tests in 2024 are:

If you intend on taking an English language test to satisfy the English language requirement for a UK spouse visa, you must take one of the above tests on the list of Home Office approved English language tests– not any English test will suffice.

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Please note that although this article uses the term “UK spouse visas”, the same English language-related Immigration Rules also apply to those submitting applications for:


Are there other UK spouse visa English tests I can take that are not listed above?

No. Your English language test must be a Secure English Language Test (SELT) – a test approved by the Home Office to show an applicant can meet the English language requirement.

Therefore, you cannot rely on other English language tests – even if they also test speaking and listening at the A1, A2 or B1 levels required by the Home Office.


What are the best UK spouse visa English tests to take?

We usually recommend that applicants take the IELTS Life Skills test.

Unlike other tests (such as IELTS (General Training) and (Education)), all IELTS Life Skills tests are approved for UK spouse visas.

Therefore, if you book the IELTS Life Skills test, you won’t accidentally book the wrong type and end up spending money on the wrong type of test.

Furthermore, many materials regarding the IELTS Life Skills tests can be found online and in overseas bookshops. These will help you familiarise yourself with the type of questions and how the tests generally work.

If you don’t choose the IELTS Life Skills test, you should then consider any of the following:

Often, a major consideration is how close the English language test centres are to the applicant’s usual place of residence.

The above test providers’ websites each list the English language test centre locations, so feel free to browse them all to book a test that is convenient for the applicant to attend.


Are there any approved English Tests (SELTs) you should avoid, if possible?

There are some approved English tests which we recommend avoiding, if possible.

This is because some Secure English Language Tests assess reading and writing while the Home Office only requires an assessment of speaking and listening when it comes to UK spouse visas.

The tests that also (unnecessarily) assess reading and writing are:

We would only recommend taking these tests if none of the speaking and listening only tests are available or if demonstrating reading and writing ability would be helpful for another reason, such as employment in the UK.


Can an applicant use an IELTS (General Training) or an IELTS (Academic) English language test to satisfy the English language requirement?

Yes, but only if you make sure you take the Home Office approved Secure English language Test version, which is called “IELTS for UKVI (General Training)” or “IELTS for UKVI (Academic)”.

The certificates for the tests look similar, but the IELTS for UKVI tests will include a SELT unique reference number (which will be required).

Just so you know, if your General Training or Academic test certificate does not include a SELT unique reference number, it will not satisfy the English language requirement.

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Which English test is necessary for a UK spouse visa extension?

When the applicant is applying to extend their first spouse visa after at least 30 months in the UK, they will need to pass a test at A2 Level or above.

These are the English language tests that will meet the English language requirement:

Example

Sarah, an Egyptian national, married Joseph, a British citizen, in Egypt.

When she successfully applied for a spouse visa to come and live in the UK with Joseph, she passed an A1 Level test to satisfy the English language requirement.

She is now nearing the 28 days prior to the BRP’s expiry date and is preparing to apply for an FLR(M) visa to extend her stay in the UK.

Sarah needs to pass a minimum A2 level test to satisfy the English language requirement.

Note: Those in the UK on a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partnership visa will be able to re-use their A1 test that they successfully relied on for their UK fiancé(e) or proposed civil partnership visa application.

Example:

Tony, a Ugandan national, passed an English language test at A1 Level for his UK fiance visa.

Tony must apply for an FLR(M) visa after marrying but before his 6-month fiancé visa expires. He can use the same A1 test pass he used for the fiancé(e) visa to meet the English language requirement.


Can I take the A2 level test when I first apply for a UK spouse visa?

Yes. If the applicant is comfortable with their level of English and can pass the A2 Level test, they can rely on it for their first spouse visa application.

The advantage of doing this is they can reuse their A2 Level test when they apply for an FLR(M) visa to extend their stay in the UK.


What about sitting a B1 Level test for an initial spouse visa application?

Yes, applicants can rely on a B1 level test for their first spouse visa application. They will typically be able to use this all the way up to their Indefinite Leave to Remain (& British citizenship) application.

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Do all applicants have to sit an English language test for a UK spouse visa?

No. There are several other ways to meet the English language requirement depending on the applicant’s nationality and academic history.

The most common way to meet the English language requirement is to rely on an English language test, but applicants can also rely on the following:

#1 If the applicant has a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD degree taught in English, they may be able to use that qualification instead of taking an English language test.

If the applicant’s Bachelor’s degree, Master’s or PhD was taught in English at a recognised educational establishment in the UK (usually a university), you could submit that qualification to satisfy the English language requirement.

However, if the applicant’s degree was taught in English but was awarded outside the UK, the applicant will need to submit additional documentation to show that the qualification meets the English language requirement.

Firstly, the applicant will need certification from Ecctis (formerly known as UK NARIC) that their qualification meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD in the UK.

Additionally, if the qualification was not awarded by an educational establishment from a majority English-speaking country (not including Canada), they will also need official confirmation from Ecctis (formerly known as UK NARIC) that the qualification was taught or researched in English at or above the required level.

Just so you know, Ecctis does charge fees to certify your degree. More information is available here.


#2 If you are a national from a majority English-speaking country, you will automatically meet the English language requirement and will not have to take an English test.

The majority English-speaking countries are:

  • Antigua and Barbuda;
  • Australia;
  • the Bahamas;
  • Barbados;
  • Belize;
  • the British Overseas Territories;
  • 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.

If the applicant is a national of one of the above-listed countries, they will only need to provide their passport confirming their nationality to satisfy the English language requirement.


#3 If one of the following applies, the applicant will be exempt from the English language requirement:

i) The applicant is aged 65 or over at the date of application (when you submit and pay the Home Office application fee).

In such a case, the applicant’s passport confirming their date of birth will be sufficient.

ii) The applicant has a physical or mental condition that prevents them from being able to sit an English test or learn English to the required level.

Please note that you must provide evidence from a medical professional that details why the applicant’s physical or mental condition prevents them from sitting a test or learning English to the required level.

This exemption is not automatic. Rather, the Home Office will look closely at the evidence and decide on each application for exemption on a case-by-case basis.

iii) There are ‘exceptional circumstances’ that prevent the applicant from satisfying the English language requirement.

This is usually a very high bar to reach. Difficulty in travelling to a test centre, even in another country, may not meet the threshold.


Do you have to submit an English language test certificate with your application?

No, this is no longer necessary.

You just need to provide the SELT unique reference number (URN) for your English test on your online application.

Having said that, we would still recommend submitting a copy of the test certificate.


How much does a UK spouse visa English test cost in 2024?

Most UK spouse visa English tests cost £150 in 2024.

Please note, however, that the tests which include reading and writing assessments can be more costly.


Can you resit an English test for a UK spouse visa if you fail?

Yes.

Applicants can resit a test as often as they need to, but they will normally have to pay a fee for each test they sit.


How long are UK spouse visa English tests valid for?

They are usually valid for two years.

But remember, if you used a higher-level test in a previous application, as discussed earlier, this should remain valid for visa applications made more than two years later – if the test was previously successfully relied on and there has been continuous residence between the applications.


How can you book the UK spouse visa English tests?

The tests are all booked by going onto the website of whichever test provider you have chosen.


Other Frequently Asked Questions

If I teach English or I have a professional job which requires me to speak fluent English, will I be considered exempt from having to sit an English test?

No. You can only meet the English requirement via the ways discussed above.

If I am in the UK on a visitor visa, can I take an English language test in the UK?

Yes. Applicants who are in the UK on a visitor visa are permitted to take an English language test in the UK.

Can an overseas degree be used instead of an English language test?

Yes. But, as discussed above, remember the degree must have been taught in English and has to be accompanied by the required certification from Ecctis (previously known as UK NARIC).

The country I am applying from does not offer any A1 Level tests. Am I exempt?

No. Usually, if no A1 tests are available in an applicant’s country of residence, applicants will normally be expected to travel to another country to take the test. The only time you can be exempt in these circumstances is if you can show it is not 'reasonable' or 'practicable' to travel to another country. But, as discussed above, the mere inconvenience will not normally be classed as the kind of exceptional circumstances needed for an exemption.

Want help?

We are an OISC-registered immigration law firm specialising in UK spouse and partner visas.

There are two reasons why we provide our clients with an exceptional level of service:

  • We only deal with UK spouse and partner visas.
  • Our team has a strong Home Office background, so we have a unique insight into how we can give our clients the best chance possible.

Our Full Legal Representation service is offered by Ed Lowe, Wendy Foy & Matthew French (all of whom worked in the Home Office for several years). This will involve us handling your application from start to finish.

If, however, you want to deal with the application yourselves, you may be interested in our £435 DIY Application Pack service.

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