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New English language requirement for partners

From 29 November 2010, any migrant who wants to enter or remain in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or a person settled here will need to show that they can speak and understand English.

You will need to meet the requirement if:

  • you are a national of a country outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland; and
  • you are in a relationship with a British citizen or a person settled here; and
  • you want to apply to enter or remain in the UK as that person's husband, wife, civil partner, fiance(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner.

The new requirement was announced on 9 June 2010.

When will the requirement be introduced?

On 26 July 2010, the Border Agency announced that the new requirement will come into force on 29 November 2010 by way of changes to the Immigration Rules.

What will you need to do?

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country (see below), you will need to pass an acceptable English language test with one of the approved test providers. You can find more information about these tests in the list of acceptable tests and approved test providers (PDF 144KB opens is a new window).

In the test, you will need to demonstrate a basic command of English (speaking and listening) at level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference. This is a basic level, which is judged to require 40 to 50 hours' tuition for most learners. Someone assessed at level A1 can understand and use simple, everyday expressions and very basic phrases.

You will not need to demonstrate your reading and writing skills.

When you make your application, you will need to provide evidence that you have passed the test.

You will need to pay for your own English language test. The cost of a test will vary according to your test provider and country.

What is a majority English-speaking country?

If you are a national of a majority English-speaking country, you will meet the English language requirement automatically. You will not need to take a test.

The Border Agency consider that the following countries are majority English-speaking countries:

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