Tougher Language Requirements for British Citizenship

As of 28 October 2013, there will be tougher requirements for those who are interested in becoming British citizens or settling in the UK. What does this mean for those who want to apply, and why are the requirements being changed? Firstly, people in both categories will be required to pass the Life in the UK Test and also be able to speak and listen to the English language at a B1 (intermediate) level.

What is a B1 level English speaker?
According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF or CEFR), B1 English speakers are able to speak to others in a limited way in familiar situations and can also respond in a general way in non-familiar situations. For example: This person would be able to open a bank account if the information was presented in a simple way.

Why are these changes being made?
These changes are being made in order to strengthen the citizenship process and will take the place of the system that is being used now. The system that is presently being used requires those that are applying to either take the Life in the UK Test or to improve by one level to the next in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), but does not require both.

The New Requirements for Applicants
Beginning 28 October 2013, there will be two parts to the knowledge of language and life requirement. This means that applicants will be expected to pass both the Life in the UK Test and be able to speak and listen to English at a B1 CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level. Both of these requirements must be met unless the applicant is exempt.

What is knowledge of language and life requirements are there for those wanting to become naturalised citizens?
The same knowledge of language and life requirements will be needed for those wanting to become naturalised citizens as for those who want to settle in the UK. This means that applicants will be required to speak and listen to English at the B1 level.

What English language qualifications will be accepted?
There are several English language qualifications that will be accepted as proof that the applicant speaks English at the B1 level. These include:
• Qualifications which cover speaking and listening at the B1 level or above from the Home Office’s Secure English Language Test (SELT) list. The list of newly approved tests can be found at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/new-approved-english-tests.pdf.
• English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualifications at entry level 1, 2, or 3 which include speaking and listening that have been managed by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). The qualification has to be listed as an ESOL qualification on the Ofqual Register of Regulated Qualifications and must have been completed in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. You can find more information on approved ESOL qualifications on the Ofqual website at http://register.ofqual.gov.uk/.
• A National Qualification in ESOL at Scottish Qualifications Framework levels 4, 5, or 6, given by the Scottish Qualifications Authority and taken in Scotland. More information on the qualifications in Scotland can be found at http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/8325.html.