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The UKBA has published a statement of intent announcing plans to tighten English language requirements for applicants for indefinite leave to remain and naturalisation.

From 28 October 2013 applicants for indefinite leave to remain and naturalisation will be required to pass a two stage test which will include the Life in the UK test and English language test at B1 level in speaking and listening.

From 25 March 2013, the test is based on the handbook “Life in the United Kingdom: A Guide for New Residents”. Tests passed before 25 March 2013 will continue to be valid and there will be no requirement to take a revised test. However, those applying for indefinite leave to remain or naturalisation after 28 October 2013 will be required to have passed the language test in addition to the Life in the UK test.

The following qualifications will be accepted:

  • B1 in speaking and listening from Secure English Lanuguage Test (SELT) providers as published in Appendix O of the Immigration Rules.
  • ESOL at Entry level 1, 2 or 3 includin speaking and listening

As the test may prove challenging for some migrants, provisions will be made permiting migrants in certain categories to apply for extension of limited leave to remain where they have been unable to meet the English language requirement for settlement.  These categories will include:

  • partners, children or parents applying under appendix FM or Part 8 of the Immigration Rules;
  • those who qualify for settlement under the long residence rules under paragraph 276A or on the basis of private life under paragraph 276ADE;
  • dependants of PBS migrants or work permit holders;
  • dependants of HM forces personnel.

It may be worth noting that no similar provisions extend to PBS migrants or work permit holders.

The English language requirement will be reduced to A2 level and Life in the UK test will be waved for applicants for settlement who had been in the UK for 15 years with limited leave to remain as a partner of a settled person or dependant of a PBS migrant or work permit holder, or as a dependant of HM Forces personnel. They would still need to produce evidence from a suitably qualified person confirming that it would be unreasonable to expect them to reach B1 level in English. The UKBA will consider whether similar concession would apply to those entitled to leave to remain on the basis of long residence or private life in the UK.

Further, the UKBA has announced intention to carry out re-tendering for approved Secure English Language Test providers in summer 2013. Changes to the list of providers will take place on 6 April 2014. Those applying for entry clearance or extension of stay before 6 April 2014 can rely on the language tests taken with the current providers.

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