Changes to the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK requirement for settlement and naturalisation

20 November 2013

As of the 28 October 2013, the government has introduced changes to the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK (KoLL) requirement which will apply to any application for permanent residence (settlement) in the UK for adults (aged 18 and above). The new requirements will also apply to individuals applying to naturalise as British citizens.

There are two components to this requirement. Applicants for settlement and naturalisation are now required to:

  • pass the Knowledge of Life in the UK test; and
  • show that they meet the separate English Language requirement by either:
    • having a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR);
    • having a UK degree level qualification that was taught in English; or
    • being a national of a designated English-speaking country.

The first component of the KoLL

The Life in the UK test

This is a computer based 45 minute test, with 24 multiple choice questions which are based on the official handbook “Life in the United Kingdom: A Guide for New Residents”. The test is for individuals to show that they understand English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic and know about life in the UK. Please see the link below to the Life in the UK test website which explains how to prepare for and book the test.

Click HERE for further details.

The second component of the KoLL

English Language Qualification

The purpose of this test is to demonstrate that applicants can understand and use English at a level which facilitates integration in the wider community. Although applicants do not need to study for this qualification at any particular institution it is important to ensure that their qualification will be recognised by the UKBA. Applicants will need to take a specified English language test or qualification which must be awarded by a recognised body.

The following qualifications will be accepted:-

  • A qualification or test specified in Schedule 2A (specified English language tests and qualifications and English speaking countries). The list can be found HERE
  • Qualifications in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Entry level 3, Level 1 or Level 2, that include speaking and listening and that have been regulated by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual), the Welsh Government or the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA). The qualification must be listed as an ESOL qualification on the Register of Regulated Qualifications and have been taken in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • A National Qualification in ESOL at Scottish Qualifications Framework (SCQF) levels 4, 5 or 6 awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)

Level B1 is described by the Council of Europe as the “Threshold level specification and is perhaps most categorised by two features. The first feature is the ability to maintain interaction and get across what you want to (…). The second feature is the ability to cope flexibly with problems in everyday life (…)”.  In summary, applicants will need to demonstrate that they are able to discuss topics in their field of personal interest as well as various familiar topics regularly encountered in a school, work or leisure context.

These tests can be taken in any order. The cost of the Life in the UK test is £50 and the average cost of the English Language Qualification is £150.  Should the applicant fail either of these test, these can be retaken. This will not be prejudicial to the application.

Exemptions

Degrees taught in English

Those who have obtained a degree taught in English will not be required to show a formal speaking and listening qualification. They will still be required to pass the Life in the UK test to demonstrate their knowledge of life in the UK (the first component of the KoLL requirement).

Those with an academic qualification (not a professional or vocational qualification) who provide appropriate evidence that the qualification was taught or researched in English are considered automatically to meet the English language component of the KoLL requirement and will not be required to show a formal speaking and listening qualification. The qualification must be deemed by UK NARIC to meet the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD in the UK.

If an applicant’s academic qualification was obtained in one of the listed countries, the Home Office will assume that it was taught in English (click 'Read more' to see full list):

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The UK
  • The United States of America

Nationals of majority English speaking countries

Nationals of designated majority English speaking countries are considered automatically to meet the English language component of the KoLL requirement and will not be required to show a formal speaking and listening qualification. However, they will still be required to pass the Life in the UK test to demonstrate their knowledge of life in the UK.

Nationals of the following countries are accepted as majority English speakers (click 'Read more' to see full list):

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland (for naturalisation purposes)
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The United States of America

Exemptions from the “Life in the UK” test AND the “English Language Qualification”

For settlement applications:

  • children (people under the age of 18 years)
  • victims of domestic violence
  • foreign and Commonwealth citizens on discharge from HM Forces (including Gurkhas)
  • highly skilled migrants applying under the terms of the HSMP Judicial Review Policy document
  • bereaved spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners or same-sex partners of people present and settled in the UK
  • parents, grandparents and other dependent relatives, of people present and settled in the UK, (applying under paragraph 317 of the Immigration Rules
  • adult dependent relatives, under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules, even if they are aged between 18 and 64
  • retired persons of independent means
  • individuals applying for indefinite leave to remain following five years residence in the UK as a refugee
  • individuals applying for indefinite leave to remain following six years of discretionary leave
  • individuals applying for indefinite leave to remain following three years of humanitarian protection

For naturalisation applications:

  • individuals aged 65 years old or over
  • individuals with  a long term physical or mental condition that permanently prevents you from learning English or taking the life in the UK test

Please note that applicants who already have an English Language qualification at B1 level or above will not need to take another one.

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