UK: New English language requirements for partners from 29 November 2010

Starting 29 November 2010, migrants who are the spouse or partner of a British citizen or resident and who wish to live in the UK will be required to prove that they can speak and understand English.

The new immigration rules will affect the spouse or partner of a British citizen or resident from countries outside the European Economic Area (including Switzerland).

To prove English language ability, you will need to show one of the following:

  • come from a majority English-speaking country; or
  • pass an acceptable English language test approved by the UK Border Agency (UKBA); or
  • have a degree taught in English which is accepted by the UKBA.

The UKBA accepts the following countries as being 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

If you have a bachelors degree taught in English determined by UK NARIC to be equivalent to a UK Bachelor's degree this will meet the English language requirements. The UKBA will not accept Master's degrees or PhD degrees taught in English as evidence of English ability because UK NARIC can only assess whether Bachelor's degrees were taught in English. It also seems to be the case that in future it will be more difficult to meet the English language requirements for those applying under say the Tier 1 visa or Tier 2 visa of the points based system. It will no longer be the case that Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa applicants will be able to show English language ability by having a Masters Degree or PhD taught in English.

If you are affected by these changes and you wish to immigrate to the UK as a partner of a British citizen or resident you may want to apply for a visa before the changes go into effect. can help you with your application. We have over 22 years experience helping people from all over the world live and work in the UK. Please contact us for more information.