The ability to speak English while living in the UK is extremely important. It is so important that it now forms an integral part of the eligibility criteria for the vast majority of UK visas. So if you are heading to the UK as a spouse, you will need to know what level of English you require in order to be eligible to apply for a Spouse Visa. So, in this article, we are going to look at the issue of English language skills for migrants. By the end of this article, you should have a clear understanding of why it is important to be able to speak English if you are relocating to the UK, the specific level that you require and how to get training if your English level needs improving.
Unlike many countries, the UK has one majority language: English. This means that every interaction you are likely to have, especially with government agencies, will be in English. An inability to effectively communicate in English is going to have a severe impact on your everyday life in the UK. One of the clearest examples of this problem is if you needed emergency medical care. Often in this situation, the ability to effectively communicate can be the difference between life and death. There are also other, less serious, situations where issues can arise, such as trying to register your children at school or even such basic issues as paying bills. While translators are sometimes available, budgetary cuts mean that translation services have been hit hard, and with the vast number of other languages spoken by migrants, it can be extremely difficult to find translators for a specific language.
For years, migrants coming to the UK, and especially those coming as a spouse, were able to dodge any requirement for English language skill. This option has resulted in a large number of people who have lived in the UK for many years not being able to speak the language. While this may not seem such a distinct problem (especially for those living in a community that is heavily populated by migrants from the same country), it effectively silos off a section of society from the population at large, something the government is desperately trying to avoid continuing.
In order to be eligible to apply for a Spouse Visa for the UK, you will need to have a level of English that is equal to CEFR Level A1. This is actually a rather basic level of English but is ideal for those who are looking to make a start on their English language learning journey. At this level, you should be able to communicate using basic phrases and sentences. You should also be able to read simple text.
There are, of course, exemptions from the requirement - if you come from a majority English speaking country (such as the USA or many Commonwealth countries), you will not need to prove your ability to speak English. Another accepted option is if you studied a degree that was taught in English or you have a qualification that is recognised by UKNARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree or higher. You will need to provide documentary proof if you are looking to use an exemption for the English language requirement of your visa.
If your English language skill is not up to CEFR Level A1 then you will need to study and pass an exam in order to meet the requirement. Fortunately, there are a large number of companies and agencies that offer training in English that can help you to pass this test. Well regarded companies such as IELTS can offer appropriate training and are available in 140 countries, so there will be a centre local to you. Once you have passed the exam, you will be able to use your certificate to prove that your English language skill meets the English language requirements of the Spouse Visa.
If your level of English is not currently high enough to qualify then you will need to take some training. As we stated in the previous section, there are companies such as IELTS that can help prepare you for the CEFR Level A1 test. While IELTS are not the only people that offer this training, they are by far the most well known, and also the most globally available. If you are looking to take on training, please ensure that the business that you are dealing with are accredited to give the training and are able to book the test for you.
Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous businesses out there who will try and scam students. These people know that often migrants may not know exactly what is required, and take advantage of them. If you need help vetting a training provider, get in touch with our team and let us help to guide you in the direction of an accredited training provider.
As well as taking training, you should also try and immerse yourself in the language. Tools such as YouTube are ideal for practising listening to English speakers due to the huge number of videos that are available, including comprehensive training courses. While these are not enough to satisfy the test, they will help to give you a much better understanding of the sounds and structure of the English language.
If you need more help with improving your English in order to successfully apply for a visa then please get in touch. You may first need to speak with a spouse visa lawyer who should ascertain what level of English preparedness you should have before you apply for your visa. Our team have a network of contacts that can help to ensure that you get the right training for your needs.
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