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Knowledge of English

Knowledge of English
You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.


When you do not need to prove it
You do not need to prove your knowledge of English or take a test if one of the following is true:

  • you’re applying as a child

  • you’re applying as an adult coming to be cared for by a relative

  • you’ve been in the UK on a family visa for 5 years and you’re extending it as a partner or parent

  • you’re over 65

  • you have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from meeting the requirement

How to prove your knowledge of English
You can prove it with an academic qualification, or by taking a test.


Academic qualifications
You can prove your knowledge of English if you have a degree or academic qualification that was taught or researched in English.

If your qualification is from a UK university or college, you only need your degree certificate.


If your qualification is from a university or college outside the UK
You’ll need to provide a certificate from Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) to show that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher and that it was taught in English. There are 2 kinds of certificate:

  • a statement of comparability

  • a visa and nationality statement

Take an approved English language test

  • You can prove your knowledge of English by passing an approved English language test.

  • You must pass at least level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale for your first visa application. You can choose to take a higher level test.

  • If you pass level B1 or higher, you can use your test result again when you apply for settlement after 5 years. Your test still needs to be on the approved list of qualifications and your test certificate must not have been withdrawn by the test provider.

  • If you cannot take an English language test because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you might be able to apply for an exemption. Read the guidance for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents.

Approved test providers
If you are in the UK, you can only take a SELT with one of the following providers:

  • Trinity College London

  • IELTS SELT Consortium

  • LanguageCert

  • Pearson


If you are outside of the U, you can only take a SELT with one of the following providers:

  • PSI Services (UK) Ltd

  • IELTS SELT Consortium

  • LanguageCert

  • Pearson

Find an approved test
For your results to be accepted, your test must:

  • be on the list of approved English language tests

  • have been sat at an approved test location

  • have been awarded in the two years before the date of your application


The list of approved English language tests has been assessed as meeting Home Office requirements under the secure English language testing arrangements. Only those tests and test levels specified are approved. If you intend to use an English language test in your immigration or nationality application, you must take one of the tests on the list.

You should make sure the test that you book is the one approved for SELT:

  • Pearson: ‘PTE Academic UKVI’ or ‘PTE Home’

  • PSI Services: ‘Skills for English UKVI’

  • 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’ (SGR provides these training)

  • LanguageCert: ‘LanguageCert International ESOL SELT’


It is for you to decide which test to take.

The list of approved tests gives the CEFR level and minimum grade requirements for each level.

Where 2 or more components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of a test are examined and awarded together, for example a combined exam and certificate for reading and writing skills, you must show that you achieved the required scores in all the relevant components during a single sitting of that examination, unless you were exempt from sitting a component on the basis of a disability.

You should be able to take a test within 28 days of booking, but it may not always be at the location nearest to you. If there is not an approved test location in your country, you will have to travel to another country to take the test.

The details used to book your test must be the same as on your passport or other identity document. If your surname has changed, you will still need to book the test in the name on your passport or identity document. If you wish to book your test using your changed surname, you must change the name in your passport or identity document before booking your test.

We are currently piloting secure English language tests outside of a test centre environment through some of our commercial partners. The pilot is limited to specific immigration routes and not all commercial partners are taking part in the pilot at this stage.

If you are eligible to take part in the pilot, our commercial partners will contact you. The pilot may be extended if successful, however this will not be until summer 2023 at the earliest.

Need visa assistance?

Get in touch via email so we can start working together.

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