The language requirements for a UK visa vary depending on the application you are making; and if it is a first, follow up, or “permanent” visa you are applying for. Carry on reading below to understand more about the language requirements for a UK visa, common misconceptions, as well as differences between family and work visas.
Confused about which level you need?
There is a lot of confusion about the required English level when applying for a visa to enter the UK. Should it be A1 or B1, or perhaps it’s in the middle with A2? Firstly it is important to understand different visas need different levels; many wrongly believe all are set at the intermediate level of B1. In fact the requirements for a Family visa is different to a Work visa. Some of confusion comes from the 2 meanings of the term ’settlement’, so let’s provide some clarity.
When you are applying inside the UK, the term ’settlement’ means a permanent residency status, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain. For this you do indeed need a B1 level. However, when applying outside the UK, the term ’settlement’ refers to a visa type. This will lead (eventually) to settlement in the UK in the future. A settlement-type visa, as opposed to temporary visas like a visitor. So, at the initial Spouse/Partner visa stage, a settlement-type visa, you only need a basic A1 level of English.
Family visa and Work visa – what are the language requirements for a UK visa?
UK Family visas
There are several family visa categories, such as Spouse, Fiancée, Unmarried Partner as well as a Parent visa and they all have one thing in common – they all have a minimum language requirement. For your first UK visa application, UK Immigration Rules require an approved English test at A1 level or above. Level A1 is the most basic level, based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. For UK Family visas only speaking and listening components are needed , yet they can be the hardest!
After the initial visa (which lasts 2½ years) the next step is an extension, and this time the English language requirement level is higher at A2. Finally, when the time comes for settlement after 5 years in the UK, the level is B1. This status is known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Level B1 also applies to those wishing to apply for British Citizenship. Fortunately there is no need to pass another B1 test if you have done so at the settlement stage. This means that you can reuse your language certification throughout your application processes.
UK Work visas
For a Skilled Worker visa, including the sub-category of Health and Care Worker visas, the English language requirement is set at the level B1 in all 4 components, so including speaking, reading, writing and listening. The same level applies across all applications, from the initial visa stage, to extension, settlement and finally to British Citizenship. As with family visas, you can use the same evidence of for your subsequent applications. For the test to be recognised it must be considered an approved test; a list of centres / testing options is available at the Home Office Test Centres.
Help with UK visa applications
1st 4Immigration Ltd is a prominent immigration law company, based in London, United Kingdom that has been in business for over 12 years. Regulated by the Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) at the highest level (3), ref number F200800152; where 2008 stands for the year of accreditation. 1st 4Immigration lawyers advise on UK Immigration Rules, help with visas and British Citizenship applications , and also provide training to immigration lawyers.
The company was selected to take part in TV documentary Who Should Get to Stay in the UK? – being specialists in both family and work visas. They help with entry visas for partners of UK citizens if you are returning to the UK together or sponsoring your spouse/partner or fiancee to join you here. As immigration entrepreneurs, they have a rare combination of business and legal experience, making them leading experts in UK Work and Business visas. 1st 4Immigration also helps to extend your stay once you are in the UK, apply for settlement and British Citizenship.
Sworn translations for immigration documents
BiCortex Translations provides sworn translations to translate legal documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, contracts) to the deliver at the immigration authorities, consulates, or any other official entity.
Help with learning English to the required level
BiCortex Languages offers group and private classes for adults and children, either online / virtually or face to face. They can provide teachers experienced with exam preparation to help you meet the English language requirement for a UK visa.
Article written by Natalia Andrews