Demonstrating your knowledge of language and life in the UK
This page explains how you can demonstrate that you have a good knowledge of language and life in the UK, in order to apply for settlement (also known as 'indefinite leave to remain') here.
Changes to 'knowledge of language and life' requirementsRequirements for applicants for settlement or naturalisation will change from 28 October 2013.
There are 2 ways to demonstrate your knowledge of language and life (KOL) in the UK.
- If you are an English speaker (see below) and/or you are currently in the UK as a skilled or highly skilled migrant, you must pass the 'Life in the UK test'.
- If you are not an English speaker and you are not a skilled or highly skilled migrant, you must pass a course in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) which contains citizenship materials.
Please note that some applicants are exempt from the KOL requirement.
You qualify as an English speaker if your English skills are at or above ESOL Entry Level 3 or Scottish Intermediate 1. If you do not know the level of your English skills, you should work through the tutorial on the Life in the UK test website. If you cannot fully understand the information in that tutorial, you may need to take an ESOL course containing citizenship materials.
There are transitional arrangements for skilled and highly skilled workers who enrolled on ESOL courses before 23 November 2010.
What are ESOL Entry Level 3 and Scottish Intermediate 1?
If English is not your main language, you can take a course in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL).
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you can study ESOL at the 3 entry levels:
- ESOL Entry 1 (lowest)
- ESOL Entry 2
- ESOL Entry 3 (highest)
In Scotland, you can study ESOL at the following 3 levels:
- Access 2
- Access 3
- Intermediate 1
What are skilled and highly skilled migrants?
You are a 'skilled or highly skilled migrant' if you are currently in one of the following immigration categories:
- Tier 1 (Exceptional talent)
- Tier 1 (General)
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
- Tier 1 (Investor)
- Tier 2 (Intra company transfer)
- Tier 2 (General)
- Tier 2 (Minister of religion)
- Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
- work permit holder
- highly skilled migrant (excluding those covered by the HSMP ILR Judicial Review policy document)
- representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
- representative of an overseas business
- overseas government employee
- minister of religion, religious missionary, or member of a religious order
- airport-based operational ground staff of overseas-owned airlines
- person intending to establish themselves in business
- person intending to establish themselves in business under the provisions of EC Association Agreements
- writer, composer or artist
Life in the UK test
If your English skills are at or above ESOL Entry 3 level or Scottish Intermediate 1 level, or if you are currently in the UK as a skilled or highly skilled migrant, you will need to pass the Life in the UK test before you apply for settlement.
The test is taken on a computer and has 24 questions. The questions are based on the official Life in the UK handbook. A new version of the handbook was published on 28 January 2012.
The test will change on 25 March 2013, to ask questions based on information in the new version of the handbook. To be ready to take the test, you must read the correct version of the official handbook:
- Tests taken before 25 March 2013 will be based on the handbook 'Life in the United Kingdom 2nd Edition: A Journey to Citizenship'.
- Tests taken on or after 25 March 2013 will be based on the handbook 'Life in the United Kingdom 3rd Edition: A Guide for New Residents'.
These are the only official handbooks for the Life in the UK test, and they are published by the Home Office's only official publisher, The Stationery Office. They are available from The Stationery Office or from bookshops across the UK. If you have a visual impairment, there is an audio CD version of the handbook.
The Home Office has also endorsed two publications to help you prepare:
- 'Life in the United Kingdom: Official Citizenship Test Study Guide'; and
- 'Passing the Life in the UK Test: Official Practice Questions and Answers'.
They are also available from The Stationery Office and bookshops across the UK. Please note that they do not contain the learning materials for the test, and you should also read the handbook.
You can only take the test at one of the Life in the UK test centres around the UK. The Life in the UK test website explains how to prepare for and book your test. If you have a visual impairment, you can take the test in large print or the computer can read out each question for you. If you have special needs, you should contact your nearest test centre for details of the support it can provide.
The test costs £50.00 including VAT. You must pay this fee at the test centre before you begin the test.
You will also need to show photographic identification. The Life in the UK test website lists the suitable forms of identification.
If you pass the test, you will receive a pass notification letter. You must include this letter with your application for settlement. The test centre will also notify us electronically within two working days that you have passed the test. If you pass the test, you will not need to provide any further evidence of your language skills.
Please note: If you want to apply for settlement in person at a public enquiry office (PEO), you must pass the test at least 2 working days before you attend your appointment, to allow time for the test result to be sent to us electronically. If the test result is not on our system when you attend your appointment, we will be unable to decide your application on the same day.
Taking the test in Welsh or Scottish Gaelic
The test is usually taken in English. If you are taking the test in Wales, you can ask to take the test in Welsh. If you are taking the test in Scotland, you can ask to take the test in Scottish Gaelic. You should contact your nearest test centre for details.
If you are in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
You will need to pass a test similar to the Life in the UK test, or successfully complete an ESOL course that contains citizenship materials, before you apply for settlement. Tests taken on these islands are paper-based and consist of 25 questions, with 6 questions based on local information about the island where the test is being taken.
ESOL and citizenship course
If your English skills are below ESOL Entry 3 level (or Intermediate 1 level in Scotland), and you are not a skilled or highly skilled migrant, you must take an ESOL with citizenship course and obtain a relevant qualification to demonstrate your knowledge of language and life in the UK.
ESOL courses are available throughout the UK. The National Careers Service website can help you find a course at the right level in your area.
The course must be at an accredited college, and must include citizenship materials derived from the document 'Citizenship Materials for ESOL Learners' (ISBN: 1-84478-5424).
You must obtain a relevant ESOL qualification from an approved awarding body, and you must demonstrate that you have made relevant progress.
An 'accredited college' is:
- a publicly funded college that is subject to inspection by Ofsted (if it is in England), the Education and Training Inspectorate (Northern Ireland), HM Inspectorate of Education (Scotland), Estyn (Wales); or an inspection programme that has been approved by the Island's Government (in the Channel Islands or Isle of Man): or
- a private college that has been accredited by Accreditation UK, the British Accreditation Council (BAC), the Accreditation Body for Language Services (ABLS) or the Accreditation Service for International Colleges (ASIC).
A college meets the definition of an 'accredited college' if it is accredited on the date when you obtain your qualification, or if it is accredited on the date when your settlement application is decided.
A 'relevant ESOL qualification' is:
- an ESOL qualification in speaking and listening at Entry 1, Entry 2 or Entry 3 level approved by the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual); or
- one National Qualifications Unit in ESOL at Access 2, Access 3 or Intermediate 1 level approved by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
'Approved awarding bodies' in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are:
- Ascentis (formerly Open College of the Northwest)
- Cambridge ESOL
- City & Guilds (Pitmans)
- Education Development International (EDI)
- English Management Direct (EMD)
- English Speaking Board (International) Limited
- Learning Resource Network (LRN)
- National Open College Network
- Trinity College London
In Scotland, the only approved awarding body is the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
To demonstrate 'relevant progress', your college must confirm that you have progressed by at least 1 level from the level at which you were assessed at the beginning of the course that led to your relevant qualification. For example, if you were initially assessed by your college as being below Entry 1 level, you must obtain a relevant ESOL qualification at Entry 1 level or above.
You should check with your college to ensure that it is accredited as described above, and that the course meets all of the above requirements. If your college is not accredited, or if the course does not meet all of the above requirements, your application will be refused. Your college should provide a letter confirming that the relevant criteria are met. We have drafted a template of the letter (PDF 27KB opens in a new window) which you can use. The college should also provide evidence to show how it meets the definition of an accredited college.
If you are the partner of a member of HM Diplomatic Service, the British Council or DFID
A person designated by the Secretary of State may certify personally and in writing that you have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK and of the English language, if your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner is:
- a permanent member of HM Diplomatic Service;
- a comparable UK-based staff member of the British Council on a tour of duty abroad; or
- a staff member of the Department for International Development who is a British citizen or settled in the UK.
The designated person will normally be the head of the post where your partner is based.
Their letter confirming your knowledge must be signed personally and endorsed with an official stamp. You should send us the original letter (not a copy) with your application for settlement.
What happens if you do not meet the requirement?
Unless you are exempt from the knowledge of language and life requirement, we will refuse your application for settlement without refunding the application fee if you have not met the requirement.
If you have not yet met the knowledge of language and life requirement and your current permission to stay will expire soon, you will need to apply using the appropriate form to extend your temporary permission to stay (also known as 'further leave to remain') in the UK.
MORE NEWS AND UPDATES
- Changes to the Immigration Rules - July 2013
- Statement of intent outlines new requirements for settlement and naturalisation
- New application forms - 6 April 2013
- 6 April changes to the Immigration Rules