Contact us

Book consultation

Visit our office

Book consultation

Contact our team to find out if we can help.

Book a free call to discuss your matter with us. Please leave your details and we will call you. We would also ask you to briefly describe your matter in the notes section, for the assessment before the call.

Please kindly note, we'll try to call you within the one hour slot you book, however, sometimes we'll have to reschedule the call.

Please answer mandatory questions below.

    Contact Us

    Corporate services

    Individual services

    Spouse Visa English Language Requirement

    Foreign citizens who wish to travel to the UK to live with their British partner shall apply for the Spouse Visa. To obtain such a visa, it is required to prove your English language skills but this procedure is not as simple as it may seem. In particular, not any certificate will qualify, and not any test centre can be selected. Let us discuss what the current English language requirement for the Spouse Visa is, where and how your command of English can be proved, and whether foreigners can be exempt from such a formality.

    Secure English Language Test (SELT)

    SELT is an English language test designed for those who intend to move to the UK for a prolonged period of time. It shows whether the candidate’s language proficiency is sufficient for a comfortable integration into British society, including work, studies, and family and social life. That is why such tests are typically taken by citizenship and permit of stay applicants, employees, students, and foreigners who marry British citizens. The particular SELT type depends on your immigration purpose.

    The test duration is about 30 minutes. Luckily, only speaking and listening skills shall be demonstrated, so applicants are not required to do any reading or writing tasks. In the course of the exam, you will be invited to discuss everyday topics with an interviewer and one or two other candidates. The purpose is to simulate a realistic English-language discussion and assess the applicants’ ability to ask questions, give answers, and develop a conversation. The test’s average cost is ₤150 (non refundable in case of failure).

    Minimum Level of the English Language Test for the Spouse Visa

    Applicants’ command of English shall not necessarily be advanced. SELTs include A1, A2, and B1 levels only, and an A1 level of the English test for the Spouse Visa is perfectly enough for family immigration purposes. In other words, a candidate who understands simple questions and can provide answers using short basic phrases is most likely to pass the examination.

    However, the above holds for initial visa entries only (i.e., for those who apply for the Spouse Visa for the first time ever). If a foreigner has already lived in Britain with his or her partner for at least 30 months and needs to extend the visa, the minimum level requirements are slightly more rigid. It is understood that such immigrants have already had an opportunity to improve their language skills, so they shall take an A2 test for the Spouse Visa extension. This level implies that a foreigner can support a conversation on simple topics (like weather or hobbies), tell about his or her everyday life, or do shopping alone.

    The next step is applying for permanent residency for family purposes (the so-called Indefinite Leave to Remain, or ILR). Such applicants are required to show yet a better command of English, so they take a B1 test for the Spouse Visa. A successful candidate can express his or her thoughts with correct grammar, and discuss a broader range of topics with English-speaking people.

    Where Can I Take a Test?

    It is crucial that only specific test centres are allowed to hold SELTs and issue the corresponding certificates. Such providers shall be recognized by the Home Office and approved of by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

    IELTS English test for the UK visa is the most popular option. Among other approved programs there are:

    • Trinity College;
    • LanguageCert;
    • Pearson;
    • PSI Services.

    If you have not moved to Britain yet and need to take an English test for the UK marriage visa in your home country, you shall choose between local offices of the above-mentioned providers. Before booking an exam, check whether the selected office is included in the list of approved SELT locations.

    For foreigners who speak English comfortably and have no language barrier, no specific preparation is required. If this is not your case, it is recommended to prepare in advance by taking practice tests and improving your speaking skills. All the relevant tutorials can be found on the test provider’s official website or in various teaching institutions.

    Required Documents

    The only document you need to produce when booking an English exam for the UK Spouse Visa is your foreign passport. In some cases it is enough to enter the passport details, in others you are required to upload a scanned copy of your identity document.

    How do I Prove I Passed the Test?

    Successful candidates obtain a certificate stating the name of the test provider and the final grade. If your English language level is in line with your Spouse Visa application route, you will be deemed to have passed the test.

    Attention! The results of English tests for the UK Spouse Visa are valid for two years only. Make sure that the date of issuance of your English certificate is less than 24 months prior to the visa application date.


    In some cases, it is allowed not to take a SELT when applying for the Spouse Visa. Exempt categories are as follows:

    • applicants aged 65 or older;
    • citizens of English-speaking countries;
    • people with physical or mental disorders that prevent them from studying the English language of taking an English test for the Spouse Visa;
    • holders of an academic degree studied in English;
    • adult applicants coming to Britain to be cared for by family members;
    • foreigners who have already lived in the UK for 5 years and wish to further extend their visa as a partner or parent;
    • widows and widowers of British residents.

    If any of the above holds in your case, you shall provide documentation that supports the exemption from the English language requirement. For example, a health condition can be proved by a medical record while the English origin is clearly evidenced by a passport or an ID card issued by your English-speaking country of origin.

    How Can We Help?

    Sterling Law is a law firm that offers comprehensive legal assistance for those who want to immigrate to Britain. Our highly experienced immigration lawyers have already helped thousands of foreign citizens to successfully move to the UK with minimal paperwork and troubles.

    Spouse Visa issues are among our everyday business activities. We are ready to provide a detailed consultation at which you will learn:

    • which English test is required for the UK Spouse Visa obtainment and extension;
    • what approved test centre is the nearest to your home or office;
    • what steps should be taken to successfully pass the exam and officially qualify for the British Spouse Visa.

    We have a high approval rate for our clients’ applications. Thanks to our services, you can spare considerable time and effort while arranging your relocation to the UK.

    Recent news

    Our team

    48 legal professionals

    Successful cases