English Language Test FAQ

English Language Test

Our clients often raise questions about the English language test requirements for visa and nationality applications submitted to UKVI. We have addressed the frequently asked questions in our English Language Test FAQ blog.

What is the English language test requirement?

The applicant will need to evidence that they have a sufficient understanding of the English language when applying for a visa to enter the UK, extend their stay in the UK or when seeking settlement status or citizenship.

UK visas and Immigration (UKVI) will accept the applicant’s English language test results if the following are met:

  • The test has been approved by UKVI
  • The test was taken at an approved test location
  • The test is valid and was awarded within 2 years of the application submission date

Can I sit an English language test at any test centre?

UKVI has provided a list of approved English language tests. The specified centres have been assessed by UKVI as meeting the necessary requirements under the secure English language testing arrangements. Therefore, it is important for the applicant to sit a secure English language test or SELT.

To meet the language requirements of the UK immigration or nationality rules, the applicant must sit a secure English language test at one of the approved centres on UKVI’s list and meet the specified test level, according to the visa or nationality route that they are applying under.

Will I be required to sit an English language test for my visa type?

The test that the applicant will need to sit will depend on the visa application route. Some application types require the applicant to evidence that they have sufficient English language skills in either:

  • Reading, writing, speaking, and listening, or
  • Speaking and listening

The application routes, where the applicant must demonstrate sufficient English language skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening are:

  • Innovator
  • Start-up
  • Skilled Worker
  • Minister of Religion Skills visa
  • Student

The application routes, where the applicant must demonstrate sufficient language in speaking and listening are:

  • Sportsperson Skills visa
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • Parent Family visa
  • Settlement or indefinite leave to remain

Therefore, a language test is required for a spouse visa and for naturalisation applications.

What is the level of English that I need to demonstrate in the application?

The level of test that the applicant must meet will depend on the route that they are applying under. Each test carries a Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) level and minimum grade requirement.

Which English language test centres are approved?

An applicant may only sit a secure test with one of the following approved providers:

Overseas

In the UK

The approved test will also depend on the approved centres. For instance:

The approved IELTS SELT Consortium tests are:

  • IELTS for UKVI
  • Life Skills

The approved LanguageCert tests are:

  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT (Speaking and Listening)

The approved Trinity College London tests are:

  • Integrated Skills in English (ISE)
  • Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE)

The approved Pearson tests are:

  • Pearson PTE Academic UKVI
  • Pearson PTE Home

The approved PSI Services (UK) Ltd tests are:

  • Skills for English UKVI (4 component)
  • Skills for English UKVI (2 component)

The applicant must ensure that they sit the correct test to meet UKVI’s requirement.

There is no approved English language test centre listed in my country. What should I do?

Where there is no approved test centre in the country that the applicant is applying from, the applicant must travel to another location to sit a secure English language test. This will be relevant where the applicant is applying for a visa to enter the UK.

Where the applicant needs to travel to another location to sit the test, this should be arranged prior to the submission of the application, as the applicant will be declaring that they meet all the requirements at the time of application. In any case, UKVI will retain the passport during the processing of the application, which will limit the applicant’s ability to travel.

I have booked the English language test. When must I sit the test?

The applicant will be expected to sit the test on the date and time selected. Applicants are normally able to book the test up to 28 days in advance.

Secure tests are subject to limited availability. Therefore, it is recommended that the applicant book a secure English language test at the earliest opportunity.

How long is the English language test valid for?

English language test results are valid for 2 years from the date the test is awarded.

Due to my circumstances, I will require more time to sit the test. What should I do?

Any special requests should be made to the approved test centre at the time of booking. The centres will take the exceptional circumstances into account and where appropriate, provide additional support or equipment or help to access the approved test centre.

I have passed the secure English language test. How do I enter the details into the UKVI application form?

The applicant will be given a SELT unique reference on successful completion of the secure English language test. The applicant must enter this reference into the application form to avoid a refusal of the application.

Where can I find the SELT unique reference?

The location of the SELT unique reference number on the test result, will normally depend on the system used by the approved centre. For instance, the SELT unique reference number may be referred to as:

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

UKVI will refer to the SELT unique reference number entered in the visa or nationality application form, to verify the information against the SELT online verification system.

Conclusion

We hope that the English Language Test FAQ blog posts have answered some of the questions that you may have.

If you have any further questions, please let us know and we will add it to the list.


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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If you have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice, or help with applying for a visa, feel free to contact us.

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5 ways to avoid giving up on your visa application

ways to avoid giving up on your visa application

Applying for a travel visa application can be a daunting process. The immigration requirements can appear confusing and contradictory. Never mind the copious amounts of documents to be gathered. 

We often hear from clients that had put off the visa application process for several years before finally taking the matter forward. 

The need to submit the application becomes more critical for applicants looking to extend their visas to remain in the U.K.  For those individuals, putting off the visa application can lead to a rushed application and at worst, a visa refusal. 

So how can you avoid overwhelm and feeling as if you want to give up before you have even started?

Be realistic about timescales

Visa applications take time to prepare. The U.K. immigration rules are complex and many documents are required. Appreciating that the application will take time to prepare will help you to be realistic about your timescales. 

Don’t compare yourself to others 

Your cousin, your work colleague, your friend applied for a visa within 3 days and received their visa the following week. So why is it taking you so long to make any traction on the application? The best response is not to make any comparisons at all.

Each application will be assessed on its individual merits. Even if you were applying for the same visa type as someone known to you, you may be required to submit different documents based on your circumstances, or to arrange for documents to be translated, of all which take time. 

Therefore, it is best to understand how the immigration rules apply to you and to evidence how you need the requirements. 

Accept that the application process is document intensive

UKVI require documentary evidence to assess whether you meet the immigration requirements. 

Documents must be translated and will often need to be submitted in a prescribed format. Doing so, will ensure that the application goes smoothly. 

Recognising that numerous supporting documents will form part of the application, can help avoid surprises and overwhelm. 

Start early

Like point (1), giving yourself time to prepare the application can be beneficial. Therefore, starting the process early can help. 

While a visa application may be submitted 3 months prior to the anticipated travel date, it can be advantageous to start preparing the application 4 months in advance of the travel date. 

If applying to extend the visa from within the U.K., the application may be submitted 28 days before the expiry of the visa. Yet, preparing the application and documents at least 3 months in advance of the expiry date will allow time to address any gaps and to gather further documentary evidence, if needed. 

Seek help

Some individuals are happy to prepare their visa application without assistance, and we provide several tips in our blog posts on our site to help them achieve a successful outcome.

However, if you are feeling overwhelmed and are considering giving up, seek help.

It may be that a qualified immigration consultant, such as Thomas Chase Immigration, can help you alleviate any concerns, or simply take the visa application preparation off your hands. Many clients fall within this bracket. 

Hopefully, our 5 tips on avoiding giving up on your visa application has made you feel that little bit more positive about the visa application process. 


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

Call to action

If you have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice, or help applying for a visa, feel free to contact us.

Fiancé Visa and the Immigration Rules

Fiance-visa and the Immigration Rules

Here, we assess when it may be appropriate to apply for a fiancé visa and the requirements to be met.

For context, Paul called to establish if we could help him apply for a visitor visa from India, our fees, and the time that it would take to secure the visa.

Paul was reluctant to say anything further. It did not stop us asking him several questions to determine that Paul had applied for a visitor visa to enter the UK and had been refused on 2 separate occasions. With further questioning, Paul relaxed and shared that he the prolonged absence from his long-term partner in the UK had taken a huge toll. Paul planned to travel to the UK as a visitor and marry his partner. Once married in the UK, Paul wished to apply for a spouse visa in the UK.

Wrong!

Fortunately, we were able to advise Paul of the flaws in his plans. Under paragraph V 4.2 of the Immigration Rules Appendix V: Visitor, a person entering the UK as a standard visitor must demonstrate that they will leave the UK at the end of their visit. This applies to the Marriage and Civil Partnership visitor visa also, which would allow Paul to enter the UK to marry his partner. As Paul wished to stay in the UK, Paul clearly did not meet the visitor or Marriage Visitor requirements. Instead, he would be hurtling toward visa refusal Number 3.

Paul’s partner, Rita, is an Indian national living and working in the UK as a software engineer. Rita had acquired indefinite leave to remain (ILR) under the highly skilled worker route. Due to Rita’s immigration status, and the couple’s goals, we suggested that Paul apply for a fiancé visa to travel to the UK and we assisted him with the application process.

Overview

An overseas national may travel to the UK to enter marriage or a civil partnership with a person present and settled in the UK. Therefore, under this route, Paul may apply for a fiancé visa to enter the UK to marry Rita, within 6 months of his arrival. Following the marriage, and within the validity of the visa, Paul may apply for a spouse visa to remain in the UK with Rita. The spouse visa will offer Paul a route to settlement and allow him to work in the UK. Paul will not be permitted to work in the UK under the fiancé visa.

Requirements

Under paragraph 290 of the Immigration Rules, to successfully apply for a fiancé or fiancée visa, the applicant must demonstrate that they meet the requirements. Key requirements include:

The intention to marry

Paragraph 290 (i) of the Immigration Rules states that the applicant must seek leave to enter the UK to marry or enter a civil partnership to a person who is present and settled in the UK or who is on the same occasion being admitted for settlement. This includes, a British citizen, person with indefinite leave to remain, or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Rita holds indefinite leave to remain in the UK, or settlement, and is presently in the UK. Rita is therefore eligible to sponsor Paul’s application to enter the UK as her fiancé.

Paul and Rita must also demonstrate their intention to marry in the UK. Paul had bought an engagement and wedding ring for Rita, for which he had the receipts. Paul and Rita also arranged a provisional date for their marriage ceremony with Rita’s church. The documentary evidence was used to support the application.

The couple must have met

Paragraph 290 (ii) of the Immigration Rules states that the parties to the proposed marriage or civil partnership must have met.

Rita and Paul had met in person in India. In fact, Rita had travelled to India on numerous occasions to meet with her family and Paul. In support, Paul had provided photographic evidence of having met Rita in person, together with Rita’s travel itinerary to India and the couple’s communications with each other. We were able clearly document that Rita had spent a significant amount of time with Paul.  This also supported the assertion that the couple were in a genuine relationship.

The couple must have adequate accommodation

The Rules state that the applicant must have adequate accommodation in the UK, from the date of entry until the date of the marriage or civil partnership, without the need to claim State funds or housing support.

Paul and Rita advised that upon Paul’s entry to the UK, Paul intended to reside with his uncle, with the couple living together at Rita’s one-bedroomed flat, once married.

In support of the application, we provided details of Paul’s uncle’s status in the UK, and details of his property and ability to accommodate Paul at his home.

After the marriage or civil partnership, paragraph 290 (v) of the Immigration Rules requires the couple must have adequate accommodation, including for any dependants, without recourse to public funds, which they own or occupy exclusively.

To comply with this requirement, evidence of Rita’s ownership of her London property was submitted.

The couple have adequate funds

Under paragraph 290 (vi) of the Immigration Rules, the parties must show that once married, they will be able to adequately maintain themselves and any dependants without recourse to public funds after their marriage or civil partnership.

The financial requirement will apply here. The sponsor must therefore demonstrate that they earn a minimum of £18,600 per annum. Further, the sponsor must have earned the requisite level of income for 6 months immediately preceding the application date.

Rita earned over £70,000 per year plus bonuses. Documentary evidence of Rita’s employment and earnings were submitted to cover a 6 months’ period.

Were children involved in the application, the couple would have been required to meet a higher financial threshold.

The applicant must meet the English language requirement

Under paragraph 290 (viii) of the Immigration Rules, the applicant must provide evidence that they meet the English language requirement by way of an original English language test certificate in speaking and listening from an approved English language test provider. The English language certificate must clearly show the applicant’s name and the qualification obtained at level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

The applicant may be exempt from meeting the requirement due to their age, compassionate circumstances or because they are a national of one of the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; the Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; New Zealand; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; United States of America.

In the absence of an English language test or exemption, the applicant must provide an academic qualification, which is deemed by UK NARIC to meet the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD in the UK.

Paul had studied for a Master’s degree in Computer Application, taught to him in English at a university in Bangalore in India. We reviewed Paul’s Master’s degree certificate and forwarded the document to UK NARIC to confirm that the qualification was taught or researched in English. The documentation was submitted to UKVI to meet the English language requirement.

Other concerns

Within the application we also addressed the reasons for Paul’s past visitor visa refusals.

Outcome

As a result of the strong application, Paul received a fiancé visa to enter the UK. At the time of writing, Paul and Rita are due to marry soon and we are guiding them on the next steps.

Conclusion

The fiancé visa (or fiancée visa) is beneficial for overseas nationals looking to not only travel to the UK to marry or enter a civil partnership with a British citizen or settled person, but to stay in the UK after the ceremony. There are requirements to be met under the Immigration Rules, which we have highlighted above.

Another take-way from this post, is that it can help to discuss your aims with an immigration adviser. This will ensure that you are applying for the most suitable visa based on your circumstances. Paul was adamant that the visitor visa was the right option for him. Yet, the option that Paul had chosen was inappropriate for his needs. Speaking with an adviser with knowledge of UK immigration laws can save time, money, and the anguish of a visa refusal.


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

Call to action

If you have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice, or help applying for a visa, feel free to contact us.

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