English Language Test

English Language Test FAQ

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:


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.


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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