In the realm of United Kingdom immigration, the English language requirement stands as a pivotal criterion for individuals seeking a spouse visa. This criterion underscores the importance of linguistic competence as a catalyst for successful integration and meaningful participation in British society. Aspiring to build cohesive communities and foster cross-cultural understanding, the UK visa system places a premium on language proficiency, recognizing it as a fundamental tool for effective communication, social engagement, and economic contribution. This exploration navigates through the intricacies of the English requirement for spouse visa, shedding light on its underlying motives and the transformative impact it aims to achieve in the context of familial reunification and societal cohesion.

To qualify for a UK spouse visa, you must meet the language criterion of speaking and understanding English at a proficient level. This is crucial to a successful spouse visa application since it will be used by the Home Office to assess your ability to adjust to living in the UK.

English Requirement for Spouse Visa

You can satisfy the English language requirement when applying for a spouse or partner visa by completing an accredited exam and scoring at least level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. This needed to be finished working with an organisation authorised by Home Office.

1.    English Language Test:

Applicants are generally required to pass an approved English language test. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is commonly accepted for this purpose.

The specific IELTS requirement for spouses may vary, but it usually includes testing for speaking and listening skills.

2.    Exemptions:

Some applicants may be exempt from the English language test requirement if they are a national of a majority English-speaking country or if they have completed a degree in a majority English-speaking country.

3.    Alternative Evidence:

Applicants may provide alternative evidence of their English language proficiency, such as having an academic qualification that was taught in English.

4.    English-Speaking Partners:

If the applicant’s partner is a British citizen or settled in the UK and is a native English speaker or already meets the English language requirement, this can also fulfill the requirement.

5.    Exceptional Circumstances:

In certain cases, individuals with exceptional circumstances, such as a disability, may be granted an exemption or alternative arrangements.

English proficiency requirements for spouse visa regulations

The English language test scores are admissible for two years under immigration laws. It is crucial to confirm that your English language test credential is still valid before applying for your spouse’s visa. Your application may be rejected or postponed if you submit an outdated test certificate. As previously stated, you must use an authorised supplier to administer your secure English language test (SELT). You may only take a SELT with one of the testing companies listed below if you are now living in the UK:

Those applying for a spouse visa that is not from the UK must take the SELT offered by one of the subsequent testing companies:

Your English language exam needs to be the following in order for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to approve it:

  1. Among the authorised English language exam options are:
  1. Captured at a designated testing site.
  2. You must have been granted in the two years before your application.

You will need to bring some legitimate documents with you to your English language test; these might be you:

English proficiency required for spouse visa extension

After 2.5 years, if you’re looking for a spouse visa extension, you’ll have to sign a petition again and meet the English language proficiency criteria. You must now, however, speak and listen at or above the more advanced A2 CEFR level.

Allowances from the English requirement for spouse visa

The following circumstances will exempt you from the English requirement for spouse visa:

  1. 65 years of age or older or under 18
  2. Must belong from a nation where the language is English (see below for further details)
  3. A person with a degree or other academic credential who conducts research or teaches in English
  4. A mature person visiting the UK to receive care from a family member
  5. You are interested in extending your family visa as a partner or parent if you are already in the UK and have had it for five years.
  6. You must identify as having a health issue that prevents you from fulfilling the criterion.

Academic background is exempt from the English language test for spouse visas

You might be excused from completing the English language test for a spouse visa if you hold a degree or other advanced academic credential that was taught in English. An English language exemption can only be granted if the educational requirement is the same as a UK bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. In order to be eligible for this exemption, you must:

Situations where the English language proficiency criteria is waived for spouse visa exemption

In certain cases, you might not need to meet the English language proficiency criteria. There isn’t a set list of extenuating circumstances, but you must demonstrate that you couldn’t learn English before moving to the UK for a legitimate cause or that it wouldn’t be sensible or practical for you to travel abroad to take an authorized SELT. Exceptional situations could be the following:

Chronic medical illnesses excluded from the English language requirement for spouse visas

If you are unable to demonstrate your English proficiency due to a chronic medical or mental illness, you won’t be required to do so. In order to be excluded from the English requirement for spouse visa, you must ask your doctor to fill out an exemption request for an understanding of language and life in the UK: clinical opinion. The applicant may have long-term health issues if they are deaf, silent, have speech impairments, or suffer from certain disorders like aphasia or dysphasia, which impair speaking. When deciding whether you have a medical condition that exempts you from the English language requirement, UKVI will use its discretion and consider each situation individually. The Home Office may reject your application if you are unable to show them enough proof that you have a legitimate medical condition that would make it difficult for you to learn or use English.


  1. Is an English language test mandatory for a spouse visa application?

Definitely yes, because for every kind of visa, the English language test is mandatory. Most countries, including the UK, often require applicants to demonstrate English language proficiency through an approved test. However, exemptions or alternative evidence may apply in certain situations.

  1. Which English language tests are commonly accepted for spouse visa applications?

Commonly accepted tests include the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Pearson Test of English (PTE), and the Cambridge English exams. Specific requirements may vary by country.

  1. What is the minimum English language proficiency required for a spouse visa?

Minimum proficiency requirements can vary. It is essential to check the specific requirements outlined by the immigration authorities.

  1. Are there exemptions to the English language test requirement?

Yes, exemptions may apply. Common exemptions include being a national of a majority English-speaking country or having completed a degree in a majority English. Some countries may also exempt those with specific disabilities.

  1. Can I provide alternative evidence of English proficiency instead of taking a language test?

In many cases, it is considered possible. Some countries accept alternative evidence such as having completed a degree taught in English or demonstrating English proficiency through other means.