UK Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements to change. Apply now!

Support migrant centric journalism today and donate

We would like to remind you that, as of October 28th 2013, most people applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (ILR) will need to pass the Life in the UK test and will also have to obtain a Speaking and listening qualification in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). This test must show that you speak and understand English at the 'intermediate level' (see below for explanation).

The only exceptions will be people who already fall into a category that is exempt from the requirement to take either test (see below for more information). These people will still not have to take either test.

People who are in the UK as workers have had to take both tests since April 2011 but people in the family category have had to take either the life in the UK test or an English language test. Following a consultation, the Home Secretary has decided that family migrants will be subject to the same requirement.

If you are in the family migration category, you may wish to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain now to avoid the difficulty, and the expense, of taking both tests. If you would like help with your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you should give us a call at our London Office on 0344 991 9222.

Life in the UK test

The Life in the UK test was introduced in 2006. It is a computer-based multiple choice test. Applicants have to answer 24 questions and must get at least 18 right (75%). Earlier this year, the immigration minister, Mark Harper, announced that the test would be reformed.

Since March 2013, the test has contained questions about the UK's history and culture. Now applicants must be prepared to answer questions on subjects as diverse as Shakespeare, Stone Henge and Monty Python. Mr Harper said that requiring migrants to answer questions on these subjects would 'encourage participation in British life'.

The Life in the UK test is based on the contents of the Home Office handbook for immigrants, Life in the UK: A Journey to Citizenship. It is available from bookshops and online.

Speaking and listening qualification in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

In order to qualify for ILR, you must now pass a test that shows that you speak and understand English at a level equivalent to B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This is the Threshold or Intermediate Level. You must be able to show that you are an 'independent user' of English and can
  • Understand the main points of clear standard English when they concern matters you would expect to encounter regularly
  • Can deal with most situations that are likely to arise
  • Can produce 'simple connected text' on 'topics of personal interest'
  • Can describe your experiences, dreams, ambitions and plans
You must take the test at an accredited college. Accredited colleges are either publicly funded colleges or private colleges that have been accredited by an approved accreditation body.

Please note that the level of English required has now been set at European Frame of Reference for Languages B1 for all applicants who have to take the test.


Some categories of migrant do not have to take either test. The following categories of migrant are currently exempt from having to take either test and will remain so after October 23rd 2013.
  • Foreign and Commonwealth citizens discharged from Her Majesty's Forces
  • The Husband, wife or civil partner of a Foreign and Commonwealth citizen discharged from Her Majesty's Forces
  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Bereaved partner of a UK citizen or someone with ILR
  • A dependent relative (including parents and grandparents) of settled UK resident
  • A retired person of independent means
  • A European national
  • A Turkish businessperson
  • A person who has been in the UK legally for five years as a refugee
  • A person who has been in the UK with discretionary leave for six years
  • A person who has been in the UK with exceptional leave for four years
  • A person who has been in the UK with humanitarian protection for five years
  • A dependent child of someone in the UK in a visa category that preceded the UK's points-based immigration system (which was introduced in 2008).

If you are eligible to apply for ILR, you should consider applying immediately to avoid having to take both tests. Why not give us a call now.

If you would like to apply for a UK visa can help. is a specialist visa consultancy with nearly twenty-five years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details