From 2 April 2007 all applicants for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) will need to provide evidence that they have passed either the Life in the UK test or an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) which includes citizenship materials.
The new requirement is being introduced by the Government to encourage people to learn English and to find out about our structures, laws, democratic processes and traditions. This will help people to take part in UK society and become full and active citizens.
Effective integration of people who wish to settle in the UK, including embracing a common language and understanding of life in the UK, is important to continued good race relations and community cohesion and is a central part of the Government’s managed migration policy which will ultimately benefit our society and economy.
There are two ways an applicant can demonstrate knowledge of life in the United Kingdom as well as language ability:
Applicants who are unsure of their language ability should work through the navigation tutorial on the "Life in the UK Test" (www.lifeintheuk.test.co.uk) website. If they are unable to fully understand the information, then they may need to enrol on an ESOL with citizenship course.
The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Skills and British citizenship course is available at local colleges. Further information on colleges who run the new ESOL course can be found at www.learndirect.co.uk or by calling the learndirect helpline on 0800 100 900.
Taking the Life in the UK Test
Testing started on 2 April 2007.
New test questions have been developed based on the second edition of the handbook “Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship”. The second edition includes a new chapter on opportunities to serve in public life.
The handbook can be ordered online from The Stationery Office at www.tso.co.uk/bookshop or by telephoning 0870 243 0123, it is also available from good bookshops.
From 2 April through to 30 June 2007 applicants will be able to take the test based on either the first or second editions of the handbook. The applicant simply needs to tell the test centre which test they wish to take. After 30 June 2007, tests will be solely based on the second edition.
Applicants who have had previous contact with the Home Office (for example, applying for an extension of stay) will have been issued with a Home Office reference number. Applicants should take this number with them when they intend to take the Life in the UK Test.
Applying for settlement
On 7 March 2007 the Home Office announced the introduction of new fees to be implemented on 2 April 2007. The fee for applying for settlement has increased from £335 to £750. All application forms that are postmarked prior to 2 April will be accepted at the old fee levels.
New forms have been produced that reflect this change. Up until 23 April 2007 applications submitted on old forms will be accepted. After 24 April 2007 applications that are not on the new form will be rejected.
Applications submitted without the required evidence
Applicants who apply for settlement but who do not have the required evidence to support their application will automatically be treated as an application for further leave to remain. This will ensure that they are not left without leave.
For these cases, it has been decided that any difference between the settlement fee (£750) and the further leave to remain fee (£350 – £395) will be returned to the applicant once a final decision has been reached. This will be applicable until 31 January 2008.
Work Permit holders applying for settlement who do not provide evidence that they meet the new Knowledge of life requirements will need to ensure their employer makes an application for a new work permit, so that their application can be processed as one for further leave to remain. Without this their application will be refused.
As always, please get in touch if you are ready to make your application or if you have any queries regarding these changes that have been introduced.