UK Visa Applications and Meeting the English Language Requirement
When some work visa and family visa applicants are faced with the prospect of having to prove that they meet the English language requirement the prospect fills them with dread. For other visa applicants the thought of sitting an English language requirement test is a bit of an insult given their undoubted ability to speak the English language to a very high standard. In this article our immigration solicitors look at how visa applicants need to meet the English language requirement when applying for work visas or family visas and when looking to settle in the UK and secure indefinite leave to remain.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
For specialist advice on all types of individual immigration applications call the immigration law team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.
Age and proving your knowledge of the English language
If you are age eighteen or over and seeking UK entry clearance you normally need to prove your knowledge of the English language by either sitting an English language test or proving that you fall within an exemption so don’t need to sit the test. Children who gain entry clearance on dependant visas or other visas do not need to do so.
There is also an exemption to settlement and the English language test if an applicant is under either a long-term physical or mental condition. The key point is that the condition has to be long term in nature rather than a temporary illness. Medical evidence is required.
Nationality and proving your knowledge of the English language
It comes as a great relief to many skilled worker visa applicants and family visa applicants that not all applicants are treated equally when it comes to the English language test as some applicants are exempt from having to prove their knowledge of the English language by virtue of their nationality. That can seem unfair to others with impeccable English who nonetheless have to prove that they meet the English language requirement.
The exempt nationalities are currently:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
It is very frustrating if your country of nationality isn’t on the list as even if the English language is the official language (or one of them) if the country isn’t on the list you have to meet the English language requirement and sit the test as you aren’t exempt, unless you fall within one of the other exempt categories.
Job occupation and proving your knowledge of the English language
Some job occupations are automatically exempt from visa applicants having to prove their knowledge of the English language. This is provided that the visa applicant has proved that they know the English language through having already passed an English language assessment for their job and the assessment is accepted by a relevant professional body. This exemption applies to doctors, nurses, midwifes, dentists and vets.
Some skilled migrant workers and UK employers see the job occupations that are exempt from needing a visa applicant to sit the English language requirement test as unfair and too limited. After all, many UK construction firms are crying out for skilled construction workers from the EU and non-EEA countries. In some construction jobs the knowledge of English isn’t a key aspect of the skill set for the job. However, the immigration rules only provide for a very limited number of exceptions to the immigration rules when it comes to job occupations and proving your knowledge of the English language.
Qualifications and proving your knowledge of the English language
There are two ways you can meet the English language requirement through qualification, namely a visa applicant can:
- Have been awarded a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, through study at a UK school if the study was begun when the visa applicant was under the age of eighteen or
- Have been awarded a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English. The study can take place overseas if the visa applicant applies using ECCTIS (also referred to as ENIC as the abbreviation for the European Network of Information Centres) to secure confirmation that the qualification is the equivalent of a UK bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree or a PhD. The type of service the visa applicant will need from ENIC will depend on the nature of the visa application, for example, obtaining proof of a PhD qualification to use as tradeable points in a skilled worker visa application under the new points-based immigration system. If you are not sure whether your qualification qualifies or the paperwork you need it is best to take advice from your immigration solicitor.
Proving you meet the English language requirement through sitting the English language test
Most skilled worker visa and family visa applicants see sitting the secure English language test as the last resort if they are not from a country on the exempt list and do not have the required qualification to prove their knowledge of the English language by virtue of their studies.
The key to the English language test is that it must be a ‘secure’ test or in other words the test must be provided by an approved Home Office provider.
Immigration solicitors and UK employers with jobs available for skilled migrant workers where there are UK skill shortages (such as in construction, hospitality or the restaurant industries) are keen to point out that knowledge of the English language should not put off visa applicants as the English language test is not as exacting and as rigorous as it sounds.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
For expert advice on individual immigration applications call the London based immigration law team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.