English language test
for UK visas:
Quick Guide

Many UK visa categories and citizenship applications require applicants to take a secure English language test (SELT), to prove that they can speak English to an acceptable standard under their chosen immigration route.

The type of English language test you will need to take depends on the type of visa you are applying for, as different immigration routes require different levels of English language ability.

The Home Office will only accept test results if:

  • The test is on the list of approved English language tests
  • The test has been sat at an approved test centre
  • The results have been awarded in the two years before the date of your application.

In this article, we explain which applicants will need to take a SELT as part of the application process, what level is required and how to find your nearest approved test provider.

Who needs to take an English language test?

There are two types of test, each requiring different levels of English language ability in order to pass.

You will need to take a test that assesses your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills if you are applying under any of the following routes:

  • Skilled worker
  • Start-up
  • Innovator
  • Minister of Religion
  • Student

For the following application types, you will need to take a test that assesses your speaking and listening abilities only:

  • Sportsperson
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • Partner
  • Parent
  • Settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain)
  • Citizenship

The level of test you will need, known as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level, depends on the immigration route you are applying under. To find out which level you need, you should check the specific guidance for your route, or consult a SSW advisor.

How to find an approved test centre

Your English language test must be taken with a provider that has been approved by the Home Office. Currently, approved providers include:

  • IELTS SELT Consortium
  • LanguageCert
  • Pearson
  • Trinity College London (for applicants in the UK)
  • PSI Services (UK) Ltd (for applicants outside of the UK)

The Home Office keeps a list of approved test centres in the UK and overseas run by the above providers, which is updated as new approved centres become available.

To find available dates and to book a test, you should go to the website of the provider offering the type of test you need to take. You will usually be able to take a test within 28 days of booking. However, applicants should note that some test centres are currently closed due to Coronavirus.

Approved English language tests

You must also ensure that the test itself is approved by the Home Office. Tests that are approved for SELT are:

  • IELTS SELT Consortium: ‘IELTS for UKVI’ or ‘IELTS Life Skills’
  • LanguageCert: ‘LanguageCert International ESOL SELT’
  • Pearson: ‘PTE Academic UKVI’ or ‘PTE Home’
  • PSI Services: ‘Skills for English UKVI’
  • Trinity College London: ‘Secure English Language Tests for UKVI’ – Integrated Skills in English (ISE) or Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE)

What happens on the day of the test?

On the day of your English language test, you will need to prove your identity at the test location by showing one of the following documents:

  • Passport
  • UK Biometric Residence Permit
  • UK Biometric Residence Card
  • Convention travel document
  • Stateless persons travel document
  • Identity cards of EEA nationals (for tests taken in the UK or outside the UK in the country where the document is issued)
  • Valid photographic government issued identity cards (for tests taken outside the UK in the country where the document is issued)

Reasonable adjustments can be made for individuals with a disability. Special requests should be made when you book your test.

What happens after the test?

Once you have passed the test, you will be provided with a SELT unique reference number which you will need to use when submitting your application. The reference number can be found on your test result. Your results and scores will then be checked using an online verification system.

Test results are valid for two years from the date the test is awarded.

Speak to an immigration advisor

If you have any questions about the English language requirements for your immigration route, or if you need support with your visa application, Smith Stone Walters can help.

To speak to an advisor, please contact us today.

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