English Language Tests for Citizenship


We set up this site when our study guide was published to promote the book and provide more information to those taking the Life in the UK Test. We were aware of how difficult it is to find simple, straightforward information on the evidence people have to provide when they apply for citizenship, settlement or indefinite leave to remain (ILR). So we decided to include Frequently Asked Questions on the Life in the UK Test and English Language requirements. Not surprisingly, it has proved to be the most popular page. We cannot answer any questions about visas or other immigration issues.

The most frequently asked questions we get usually concern English language requirements – which changed in 2015. As we were unable to find a website with easily accessible information on the changes (we’d love to be put right on this point) we decided to write this post.

Early in 2015 the Home Office announced that ESOL Entry 3/B1 qualifications, recognised by Ofqual, would no longer be acceptable as evidence of “knowledge of English language”. Those applicants who require this evidence have to take a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at one of the approved SELT centres introduced in April 2015. From 19 November 2015 all applicants for British citizenship, settlement or ILR have had to pass a Secure English Language Test.

The Home Office appointed two providers to deliver the Secure English Language Tests. These tests will not be as widely available as the previous qualifications as the providers have just ten centres each in the UK. However, candidates will be able to book, take a test and get their results within a few weeks.

The providers are Trinity College London and the IELTS SELT Consortium. They will deliver the following qualifications for applicants who need to meet the B1 language requirement for citizenship, settlement and ILR:

  • Trinity College’s Graded Examination in Spoken English. You need to achieve a grade 5 or above in Speaking and Listening.
  • IELTS SELT Consortium offers the Cambridge English Language Assessment. You need to achieve a pass grade.

Both qualifications are valid for just two years so it’s not a good idea to take them too long before you submit your application to the Home Office.

Another recent change: the Home Office announced that, from 1 May 2017, non-EEA nationals will need to pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) in speaking and listening at level A2 after two-and-a-half years in the UK in order to qualify for further leave to remain on the five-year partner or parent route to settlement.