Introduction: The language requirement as a part of naturalisation


English language skills are one unmissable requirement for most immigration routes. Expecting those who are naturalising speak English (or Welsh or Scots Gaelic) is a long-standing provision that illustrates an idea of a British way of life. The British Nationality Act 1981 formalised the method of evidencing language skills, setting out strict criteria to be met.


Following our previous blog on the Life in the UK exam, this blog will conclude our series on Naturalisation.

The English Language Test


You can prove your language skills by having a qualification at the B1 CEFR level, or higher. Accordingly, you will need to pass a secure English language test (SELT).


Commonly approved test providers are:



The formats of the tests differ by exam provider, but they all assess the entrants’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing capabilities. Essentially, you may book your test depending on your location and availability. If you need assistance in booking a test, our legal advisers are ready to help you to select the best option for your individual circumstances.


Common Mistakes to Avoid


Firstly, no applicant can evidence their understanding of English through GCSEs or A-level results, or National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). Unless these tests are on the list of approved tests for immigration, they will never be accepted by the Home Office.


You should be able to take the test within 28 days of booking, but this may depend on your location. On the day of the test, you will need to prove your identity. You can use the following documents as identification for the test:


  • A valid passport
  • UK Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
  • UK Biometric Residence card (BRC)
  • Convention travel document, or your identity card if you are an EEA national.


Shortly after taking the test, you can access your results online. You will be given a unique reference number which you must use when making your application. You can find the SELT unique reference number under different abbreviations depending on your provider:


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


Language test results are generally valid for two years from the test date. Once expired, you cannot rely upon that result to support your naturalisation application.


It is particularly important to note that meeting this requirement for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application makes you exempt from providing another qualification during naturalisation.


Alternative ways to meet the language requirement:


An alternative exemption option would be to show a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Ph.D. degree taught or researched in English. Here, providing degree certificates is a must. In the case that you completed your degree but are waiting for graduation, you may instead use an official transcript.


You may use an academic degree that was taught or researched in a majority English-speaking country. Yet, your degree certificate must be accompanied by an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) confirming the qualification’s equivalence to a UK qualification.


If you have a degree that was taught in English but is from a non-majority English-speaking country, you will need to provide an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from Ecctis showing that your degree was taught in English.


What is more, if you are a national of a majority English-speaking country, you automatically meet the English language requirement. The following are recognised as majority English-speaking for naturalisation:


  • Antigua and Barbuda,
  • Jamaica,
  • The Bahamas,
  • Malta,
  • Barbados,
  • Belize,
  • St Kitts, and Nevis,
  • St Lucia,
  • Dominica,
  • St Vincent, and the Grenadines,
  • Grenada,
  • Trinidad and Tobago,
  • Guyana,
  • New Zealand,
  • Australia,
  • Ireland,
  • Canada, and the United States.


While exemption from the language requirement exists, naturalisation applicants still must pass the Life in the UK test to meet the other required half of Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK (KoLL).


Other exemptions include:


  • Being under the age of 18 or being aged over 65


  • Having a long-term physical or mental condition. The Home Office will ask for details on how said physical or mental impairment prevents you from learning English. This must also be evidenced by a Waiver Request Form completed by your doctor or another registered medical practitioner to confirm your disability. While common sense should be your guide, each ailment may be considered on a case-by-case basis by your medical practitioner. 


In Closing of the Naturalisation Blog Series


As our final contribution to this 5-blog series, we have examined the complex procedures of being granted naturalisation. We analysed every step of an application for British citizenship, proposing different alternatives to meet each requirement.


Nonetheless, we appreciate how stressful and confusing it could be to navigate through, especially considering how UK immigration rules and guidance constantly change. Our legal advisers will be happy to provide you with tailored immigration advice to give you the best chance of success in your naturalisation application.


If you have any questions or queries relating to the requirements for British citizenship, please do not hesitate to contact us.

To arrange meeting with our lawyers, contact us by telephone at

 +44 2077202156 or by email at

If you have instructed us before, we would be pleased to know your feedback about your experience.