Passing the B1 SELT English Test for Your Skilled Worker, Health and Care Worker, or Student Visa
Under the current UK immigration system, regardless of your qualifications, experience, and skills, unless you can speak English to a sufficient standard, you are likely to have your Skilled Worker, Health and Care Worker, or Student visa refused. Thankfully, with an understanding of the requirements and some careful planning, meeting the English language requirement does not need to be too onerous or stressful. In this article, we will explain the English language requirements for the UK, Skilled Worker, Health and Care Worker, and Student Visa, and how to prepare and pass the B1 SELT English test.
What are the English language requirements for the Skilled Worker, Health and Care Worker, and Student Visa?
Whether you are applying for the Skilled Worker, Health and Care Worker, or Student Visa for the UK, you may need to pass an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) in order to receive a positive decision from the Home Office. Nationals of some countries do not need to pass a test, including Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA. Likewise, foreign nationals with a GCSE or A-level qualification from a UK educational establishment, or a degree-level academic qualification taught in English, do not need to pass a test.
Skilled Worker and Health and Care Worker visa applicants need to be able to read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. The same requirement applies for Student visa applicants studying below degree level, however, a higher B2 level is needed to study at degree level or above. In this article, we will focus on B1 only.
What is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale?
CEFR is a European standard for language competence. The scale is split into basic users (A1 and A2), independent users (B1 and B2), and proficient users (C1 and C2). The model provides a common way of describing the achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe and other countries.
What does CEFR level B1 mean?
The CEFR scale states that a person who meets the CEFR B1 standard “Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans”.
Do I need to use an approved test provider?
Yes, your SELT exam must be completed with an approved provider, however, this can be done outside or inside the UK. The Home Office states that the only providers in the UK approved to provide SELT tests are:
- IELTS SELT Consortium
- Language Cert
- Trinity College London (only available inside of the UK)
- PSI Services (UK) Ltd (only available outside of the UK)
A full list of approved English language test centres is available online, both inside and outside the UK.
The Home Office also states that a test result will only be accepted if:
- The test is on the list of approved English language tests
- The test was taken at an approved test location
- The award was given in two years before the date of your application
They also state that the test taken should be approved for SELT, as follows:
- IELTS SELT Consortium: ‘IELTS for UKVI’ or ‘IELTS Life Skills’
- LanguageCert: ‘LanguageCert International ESOL SELT’
- Pearson: ‘PTE Academic UKVI’ or ‘PTE Home’
- PSI Services: ‘Skills for English UKVI’
- Trinity College London: ‘Secure English Language Tests for UKVI’ – Integrated Skills in English (ISE) or Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE)
As such, each of the B1 level tests listed above is different, but they meet the same overall standard of English language. It should also be noted that some providers combine tests, and some have one for each area, i.e., listening, writing, reading, and speaking. It is important to follow the curriculum and learning materials for the exam and provider you have chosen.
What is the pass mark for a B1 SELT test?
The pass threshold varies depending on the provider and exam chosen. As of the date of writing (August 2021), the pass marks required are as follows:
- IELTS SELT Consortium Life Skills B1 (Speaking & Listening): Pass
- Language Cert International ESOL SELT B1 (Speaking & Listening): 60/100
- Pearson PTE Home B1: Pass
- Trinity: Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) Grade 5: Pass
- IELTS for UKVI: Listening: 4.0; Speaking: 4.0; Reading: 4.0; Writing: 4.0
- Language Cert International ESOL SELT B1: Listening: 33/50; Reading: 33/50; Writing: 33/50; Speaking: 33/50
- Pearson PTE Academic UKVI: Listening: 43; Reading: 43; Writing: 43; Speaking: 43
- Trinity Integrated Skills in English I (ISEI): Reading: Pass; Listening: Pass; Speaking: Pass; Writing: Pass
What documents do I need to take on the day of my B1 SELT test?
Any of the following types of documents can be used to prove your identity before taking your test, whether inside or outside the UK:
- UK Biometric Residence Permit
- UK Biometric Residence Card
- convention travel document
- stateless persons travel document
Before embarking on the process of studying and taking an approved language test, we recommend checking that you need to do so and that you are studying at the correct level. Your chosen test provider will be able to explain the curriculum, costs, timings, and learning resources available. If you are ever unsure, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to advise you. We wish you all of the best with your English language test and your application for a Student, Skilled Worker, or Health and Care Worker visa.