Information for providers of English language courses and tests
This page contains information for the providers of courses and tests which many migrants must take before they can apply to us for permission to enter, remain in, settle in or become citizens of the UK.
On this page
Providers of tests for migrants applying under the points-based system or as partners
If a migrant wants to enter or remain in the UK under the points-based system, or as the partner of a settled person or British citizen, they may need to pass an English language test before they apply to us. This English language test must be provided by one of our approved test providers.
In early 2011 we revised our list of approved test providers. The new list replaced all previous lists. You can download the new list from the right side of this page.
ESOL test providers for settlement and citizenship applicants
If a migrant wants to apply for settlement or naturalisation as a British citizen, they may need to show that they have a good knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK.
If the migrant's standard of English is below ESOL Entry Level 3, and they are not currently in the UK as skilled or highly skilled migrants, they can do this by obtaining an relevant qualification in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) from an approved awarding body. Before obtaining the qualification, they must attend a course, taught using specified citizenship materials, at an accredited college. They must also be able to show that they have progressed during their course.
To be accredited, a college must be:
- a publicly funded college subject to inspection by Ofsted or its devolved equivalents; or
- a private college which is accredited by Accreditation UK, the British Accreditation Council (BAC), the Accreditation Body for Language Services (ABLS) or the Accreditation Service for International Colleges (ASIC).
We will accept a qualification if the college meets these requirements on the date when the qualification is gained, or on the date when the migrant makes their application for settlement or citizenship.
To show progress, the migrant must show that:
- their level of English was assessed before the course started; and
- the qualification gained shows progression by at least 1 level.
They will need to provide a letter from the college, which should state:
- the student's name;
- the title of the qualification obtained;
- the name of the awarding body;
- confirmation that the course contained citizenship materials derived from the document entitled 'Citizenship Materials for ESOL Learners' produced by NIACE/LLU+;
- confirmation that the student was assessed at the beginning of the course by a suitably qualified teacher;
- the level at which the student was originally assessed;
- the level to which they progressed during the course;
- the duration of the course;
- how the college meets the definition of an accredited college.
The letter must be on headed paper, containing the college's official stamp or seal. You can find a template for this letter, including the evidence required, under 'Related documents' on the right side of this page.
We have heard of instances when migrants already close to attaining a particular ESOL level have taken a very short course giving them a qualification at that level but no higher. This course is of very little value to the migrant and does not help them to develop their understanding of English to aid their integration into the UK. We expect colleges to take a rigorous approach to the initial assessment and to placing students on appropriate courses. (For example, if an applicant is already very close to attaining ESOL Entry Level 1, the appropriate course is likely to be one leading to ESOL Entry Level 2.) This will ensure that applicants obtain maximum benefit from their course of study and meet the requirement to have made progress.
If an applicant for citizenship has previously been granted settlement on the basis of an ESOL qualification, they will not need to take a new ESOL course, even if their existing qualification was not taken in an accredited college and they did not make progress from the point of initial assessment.