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English Language test for UK visas

Certain immigration and UK visa applications require you to meet a minimum level of English language proficiency. There are various ways to meet this requirement, one of which is by passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) through a provider approved by the Home Office. Some applicants for UK visas or settlement in the UK are exempt from taking a SELT, so it’s crucial to understand the requirements applicable to you before applying.

English language book

What English language test do I need for my UK visa application?

There are two types of English language tests for UK visa applications, depending on the visa or immigration route you are applying for.

English language test to assess reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities:

• Innovator visa (CEFR Level: B2)

• Start-up visa (CEFR Level: B2)

• Skilled worker visa (CEFR Level: B1)

• Minister of Religion visa (CEFR Level: B2)

• Student visa (CEFR Level: B1 for below degree level studies OR CEFR Level B2 for degree level studies and above)

English language test to assess speaking and listening abilities:

• International sportsperson visa (CEFR Level: A1)

• Representative of an overseas business visa (CEFR Level: A1)

• Parent visa (CEFR Level: A1)

• Partner visa (CEFR Level: A1)

• Indefinite leave to remain (CEFR Level: B1)

• British citizenship (also requires the Life in the UK Test) (CEFR Level: B1)

English language test exemptions

Several exemptions to the English Language Test requirement exist. Only applicants between the ages of 18 and 65 are subject to testing. Additionally, holding a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or PhD taught or researched in English usually exempts applicants.

Nationals from countries where English is predominantly spoken are also exempt, including:

• Antigua and Barbuda

• Australia

• The Bahamas

• Barbados

• Belize

• Canada

• Dominica

• Grenada

• Guyana

• Jamaica

• New Zealand

• Republic of Ireland (for citizenship only)

• St Kitts and Nevis

• St Lucia

• St Vincent and the Grenadines

• Trinidad and Tobago


Applicants with a doctor’s letter confirming a long-term physical or mental condition preventing test-taking are also exempt.

For settlement applications, additional exemptions apply to applicants who:

• are victims of domestic violence as the partner or spouse of a British citizen;

• are the partner or spouse of a deceased British citizen;

• are adult, dependent relatives of individuals present and settled in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection;

• are refugees living in the UK;

• have discretionary leave;

• have humanitarian protection;

• have leave to reside in the UK as retired persons of independent means;

• are Commonwealth citizens discharged from HM Forces;

• are highly skilled migrants under the highly skilled migrant program (HSMP); or

• are in exceptional circumstances.

Approved test providers

If you are in the UK, you can only take a SELT with one of the following providers:

• LanguageCert

• Pearson

• Trinity College London

• IELTS SELT Consortium

If you are outside the UK, you can only take a SELT with one of the following providers:

• LanguageCert

• Pearson

• PSI Services (UK) Ltd – Skills for English (UKVI)

• IELTS SELT Consortium

Finding an approved test

For your results to be accepted, your test must:

• be on the list of approved English language tests

• have been taken at an approved test location

• have been awarded within two years before the date of your application

It's crucial to ensure the test you book is approved for SELT

• IELTS SELT Consortium: ‘IELTS for UKVI’ or ‘IELTS Life Skills’

• LanguageCert: ‘LanguageCert International ESOL SELT’ or ‘LanguageCert Academic SELT’ or ‘LanguageCert General 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)


You should identify which test to take based on your needs. To find test dates and book, visit the website of your chosen provider. You should be able to take a test within 28 days of booking, but it may not always be at the nearest location. If there is no approved test location in your country, you may need to travel abroad to take the test.

Ensure that the details used to book your test match those on your passport or other identity document. If your surname has changed, book the test in the name on your passport or identity document. If you wish to book using your changed surname, update your passport or identity document before booking.

Proving your identity on test day

You must provide evidence of your identity at the test location before taking the test.

Your identity document must:

• be current and valid

• be an original, not a photocopy

• include a photo of you

• match the information provided when booking the test

If your identity document has a signature, it will also be checked.

The details used to book your test must match the document you provide at the test location. Failure to prove your identity will result in being unable to take the test.

Acceptable documents

The following documents are acceptable identification for tests taken in the UK and outside the UK:

• passport

• UK Biometric Residence Permit

• UK Biometric Residence Card

• convention travel document

• stateless persons travel document

The following documents are acceptable for tests taken either in the UK or outside the UK in the country where the document is issued:

• identity cards of EEA nationals

The following documents are acceptable for tests taken outside the UK in the country where the document is issued:

• valid photographic government-issued identity cards

Emergency travel documents are not accepted as proof of identity.

Your name must be on the document. If your passport is held by the Home Office and you lack another valid identity document, contact the Home Office to request the return of your passport.

If you have a previous gender (including a different name) that you do not want the test centre staff to see or for it to show on your test result, email before booking your test.

After the test

Upon passing the test, you will receive a SELT unique reference number, which must be included in your application. Failure to include your reference number may result in refusal.

You will find your SELT unique reference number on your test result as:

• ‘UER’ for Trinity College London tests

• ‘UKVI number’ for IELTS SELT Consortium tests

• ‘Candidate URN’ for LanguageCert tests

• ‘SELT URN’ for Pearson tests

• ‘URN’ for PSI Skills for English tests

You do not need to submit any documents with your immigration or nationality application. Test results and scores are verified using the SELT online verification system provided by each approved SELT test provider, using the SELT unique reference number.

If you took a test in the UK, you can use your result for both UK and overseas applications. Tests taken overseas can also be used for applications made in the UK. Test results are valid for two years from the date the test is awarded.


If are you not sure if you need to sit the English Language Test or have questions about any aspect of your application, contact us to discuss it today.

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