Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship - Life in the UK test

Applying for settlement – also called Indefinite Leave to Remain – in the UK is not as simple as having lived here for a number of years, as experienced British citizenship lawyers will explain. The UK’s stringent Immigration rules, which you will already have experienced, potentially assisted by London immigration solicitors, when making your initial visa application to come to the UK, include some clear eligibility criteria for those looking to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain or British citizenship. One of those criteria is that you must have passed the Life in the UK test.

Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship – the differences

Indefinite Leave to Remain is not the same as British citizenship but gives you the right to live and work in the UK free from Immigration controls. Unlike British citizenship, it does not give you the right to hold a UK passport. It is also possible that you can lose your Indefinite Leave to Remain if you leave the UK for an extended period of time. British citizenship means that you have the full benefit of being a British citizen, including the option to apply for a British passport. The UK allows dual nationality, so you can retain your original nationality as well as being a British citizen, if your original nationality allows this.

Life in the UK test required for both Settlement and British citizenship

While your Immigration solicitor will be able to explain in more depth the difference between British citizenship and settlement, one of the criteria that applies whether you wish to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, or are now considering British citizenship, is that you must pass a number of eligibility requirements. Alongside demonstrating knowledge of the English language (if applicable – nationals of some countries are exempt from this requirement) it is required that applicants for Indefinite Leave to Remain and for British citizenship must pass the Life in the UK Test.

What is the Life in the UK Test? 

The Life in the UK test is designed to allow individuals to demonstrate that they understand how the UK works, and that they will be able to participate in and contribute to British society. Anyone who has lived in the UK for the length of time that will allow them to start considering an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain or British citizenship will doubtless have noticed a huge range of idiosyncrasies that mark out life in the UK as different to that from other countries. Depending on where you have originally come from, these differences may be more or less marked – but they are there nevertheless. Before granting someone the rights that come with Indefinite Leave to Remain or British citizenship, the UK Government want to satisfy themselves that that individual is committed to integrating into British society. 

When the Life in the UK Test is not required

If you already have Indefinite Leave to Remain and took the test in order to obtain that status, you do not need to take the test again when applying for British citizenship. In addition, you will not need to take the Life in the UK Test if you are under 18, 65 or over, or have a long term physical or mental condition. This must be certified by a doctor.

Preparing for the Life in the UK Test

It is possible to prepare for the Life in the UK test. Many of the best Immigration lawyers in London will be able to assist, drawing on the experience of others who have taken and passed the test. You are able to purchase an official handbook which contains all the official learning material for the test. It is prepared in language that is easy to understand and contains information about British traditions and customs. The test you will take is based on the material in the book. 

Taking the Life in the UK Test

There are a number of conditions related to taking the Life in the UK Test. You must sit the test at a Life in the UK test centre that is closest to your home. There are around 60 test centres in the UK, and you are required to sit the test at one of the 5 closest to where you live. You must prove your address on the day of the test by taking along a document such as a utility bill or bank statement with your name and address that is less than 3 months’ old. It costs £50 to take the test, and you must pay this when you book your test. You must do this online, and you will need

- An email address

- A credit or debit card (to pay the fee)

- A form of ID.

The ID you need when you book the test can be any of the following

- A passport (even if it is out of date)

- UK photocard driving licence - full or provisional

- convention travel document (CTD), certificate of identity document (CID) or stateless person document (SPD)

- EU identity card

- Immigration status document endorsed with a UK residence permit on a passport with a photo - it can be out of date

- biometric residence permit


When you attend the test, you cannot take anyone with you, but as already mentioned, you must take a proof of address with you. This must be not more than 3 months old. Documents you can use to prove your address include

- gas, electricity or water bill

- Council Tax bill

- letter from the Home Office with your name and address on it

- UK photocard driving licence

- bank or credit card statement


You will have 45 minutes to answer 24 questions all of which are based on the Life in the UK handbook. 

Passing the Life in the UK test

There is a 75 pass mark for the test. If you succeed you will receive a pass notification letter which must form part of your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain or British citizenship.

OTS Solicitors are Legal 500 recommended Immigration solicitors. We have many years’ experience supporting clients with their applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship, including help preparing for the Life in the UK test. For more information and to find out how we can help you, please call 0203 959 9123 today!



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