Changes to “knowledge of language and life” requirement for British citizenship and settlement now in effect

The changes have been made to the ESOL provisions within the 'knowledge of language and life' requirement for people seeking settlement and British citizenship in the UK

Most settlement applicants aged between 18 and 64 must show that they have sufficient knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK by either passing the Life in the UK test or obtaining an approved English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualification.

The ESOL provision is for people whose standard of English is below ESOL Entry Level 3.

Currently, you can satisfy the ESOL requirement by obtaining a relevant ESOL qualification from an approved awarding body following attendance on a course which was taught using specified citizenship materials.

From 7 April 2010, you must also:

  • Have studied for your ESOL qualification at an accredited college; AND
  • Be able to demonstrate that you have progressed at least one level in order to obtain your qualification.

Under the changes an accredited college is a publicly funded college which is subject to inspection by Ofsted or its devolved equivalents or a private college which is accredited by Accreditation UK, the British Accreditation Council (BAC), the Accreditation Body for Language Services (ABLS) or the Accreditation Service for International Colleges (ASIC).

UK Immigration will accept that a college meets the definition of an accredited college if it was accredited on the date when you obtained your qualification, or if it is accredited on the date when your settlement application is decided.

All settlement application on or after 7 April 2010, you must meet the new requirements.
If you submit your settlement application before 7 April 2010, it will be considered in accordance with the provisions in force on 6 April 2010.

There is no change to the provisions for those taking the Life in the UK test.


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge UK Visa applications with the British Embassy.