Published On: Fri, Apr 24th, 2020

English Language Requirement for Spouse Visa

English Language Requirement for Visa

English Language Requirement was made compulsory on 29 November 2010 by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). If subject to an exception based on age, academic credentials, physical or mental disability or special compassionate grounds, all visa applicants who are not nationals of a majority English-speaking country as specified by the UKBA are expected to pass a compulsory English examination to apply for a settlement category unmarried partner, spouse or fiancée visa.

Many applicants express concern about the test material, what the exam entails, and whether they will be able to successfully pass the test. The UKBA has set the test in the English language to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) a1 English test for spouse visa. The CEFR has six ability levels and A1 is viewed as the breakthrough or beginner point. This test covers some of the skills one will need to use in the simple settings of daily life. Within this test, the dimension of speaking and listening is evaluated.

If the question is posed gradually, a person at the A1 level will be able to communicate basic needs verbally, ask simple questions and respond to simple questions. For example, the person taking the a1 English test for spouse visa must be able to introduce themselves and explain where they live, identify people they may know or have within their family, and understand and communicate basic information such as the times, dates, and locations of recent meetings.

For most individuals, the average study periods needed to pass the A1 level exam are 40-50 hours; however, the amount and form of training required may differ on a case-by-case basis. Applicants can learn English from any service provider, teacher, or institute with the required 40-50 hours of tuition, but the examination must be carried out at an approved center. Based on the country of use, exams can be very difficult. Therefore, it is best for applicants for marriage visas to booking their appointment as far in advance as possible with a nearby test center. The applicant must pay the test fees, and the rates vary from one country to another.


  • There is no examination center in the country of habitual residence of the claimant.
  • During the time of admission, the claimant is 65 years of age or older, or under 18.
  • The applicant has a Bachelor’s or higher degree that has been taught or studied in English and assessed by UK NARIC as meeting or exceeding the accepted UK standard.
  • As specified by the UKBA, the applicant is a national of a majority English speaking country.
  • Mental or physical incapacity or extraordinary circumstances of conscience, which would preclude the applicant from meeting the obligation in English.

It is important to note that the UK Border Agency will implement a new condition in English for all applications submitted after 28 October 2013 to settle or naturalize in the UK. This will include the criterion for the English language, which will, just as at present, measure the level of knowledge of the applicant’s English language. The applicant would still need to show that they can communicate in and understand English, but it will be at or higher CEFR level B1. This degree is significantly broader than that of a1 English test for spouse visa, which consists of describing the schedule and basic aspects of everyday practice.

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