Knowledge of language and life in the UK
This section explains whether you will need to demonstrate a good knowledge of language and life in the UK when you apply for settlement in the UK (also known as 'indefinite leave to remain'). It also tells you how you can demonstrate this knowledge.
Changes to 'knowledge of language and life' requirements and application detailsRequirements for applicants for settlement or naturalisation changed on 28 October 2013, along with important information regarding the date of naturalisation.
Most applicants for settlement will need to show that they have a good knowledge of language and life in the UK when they apply. You can find out more on the Demonstrating your knowledge of language and life in the UK page.
Do I need to demonstrate my knowledge of language and life in the UK?
Certain applicants for settlement are exempt from the 'knowledge of language and life' (KOL) requirement. These exemptions are listed below.
Exemption for certain immigration categories
You will not have to meet the KOL requirement if you are applying for settlement as:
- children (people under the age of 18 years)
- victims of domestic violence
- foreign and Commonwealth citizens on discharge from HM Forces (including Gurkhas)
- highly skilled migrants applying under the terms of the HSMP Judicial Review Policy document
- bereaved spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners or same-sex partners of people present and settled in the UK
- parents, grandparents and other dependent relatives, of people present and settled in the UK, (applying under paragraph 317 of the Immigration Rules
- adult dependent relatives, under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules, even if they are aged between 18 and 64
- retired persons of independent means
- people applying for indefinite leave to remain following five years residence in the UK as a refugee
- people applying for indefinite leave to remain following six years of discretionary leave
- people applying for indefinite leave to remain following three years of humanitarian protection
Special provision may apply if you have been in the UK for 15 years with limited leave as a partner, child or parent (under Appendix FM or the transitional arrangements under Part 8), or as a dependant of HM Forces personnel, or as a dependant of a PBS migrant or work permit holder, who has not yet reached the required standard of English.
However, you will need to demonstrate your knowledge of language and life in the UK if you later apply for British citizenship, unless you are exempt for other reasons. For more information, see the Citizenship section.
If you are applying for settlement in one of the categories above, you should ensure that you meet the requirements for that category and can provide documentary evidence to support your application. The application form for your settlement category lists the evidence you must provide.
Exemption because of your age
If you are under 18 years old or at least 65 years old, you are exempt from the KOL requirement. When you apply for settlement, you should send us your passport or birth certificate as evidence of your age.
Exemption because of disability
If you have a long-standing, permanent disability which prevents you from learning English, you may be exempt from the KOL requirement. To be exempt, you must:
- be suffering from a long-term illness or disability that severely restricts your mobility and ability to attend language classes; or
- have a mental impairment which means that you are unable to learn another language.
When you apply for settlement, you should send us evidence from a medical practitioner confirming your disability.
If you require special arrangements to be able to learn English or take a test, you are not exempt - you still must meet the KOL requirement.
How do I demonstrate my knowledge of language and life in the UK?
If you are not exempt from the KOL requirement, you must demonstrate a good knowledge of language and life in the UK before you apply for settlement. Most applicants will need to do this by:
- passing the Life in the UK test, and either
- having a qualification in English at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which includes assessment of speaking and listening, or
- having a degree that was taught or researched in English, or
- being a national of an English-speaking country.
You can find out more on the Demonstrating your knowledge of language and life in the UK page.