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English language requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship

(Partner Content) All persons older than 18 years of age need to prove their knowledge of the English Language when they apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain or British citizenship.


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There are, however, some exceptions to the rule. Definite rules also apply regarding the level of English language tests. The Breytenbachs consultants have subsequently answered some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic, to bring clarity on the issue. 

Exempted countries

Question: I will be applying for my Indefinite Leave to Remain shortly. I am a South African citizen, and English is my first language. Will I be exempted from having to prove my knowledge of English, as English is my first language?

Answer: Although English is your first language, you will still be required to prove your knowledge of English in another way, as South Africa is not reckoned to be an English speaking country. If you are a national from one of the following countries, you will be exempt: Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; New Zealand; Ireland (for citizenship only); St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America. 

University degree taught in English

Question: I completed my degree studies in South Africa. The degree was taught in English. Will this be sufficient proof of my knowledge of English for my Indefinite Leave to Remain application?

Answer: If your degree is not from a UK university, you will need to provide the following to prove your knowledge of English: 

  • The copy of your degree certificate
  • A statement from UK NARIC of your Academic Qualifications Levels Statement. This will serve as confirmation that your degree is equivalent to a UK qualification. 
  • In the case of a country like South Africa, which is considered a non-majority English-speaking country, you will also need an English Proficiency Statement from UK NARIC, to confirm that the degree was taught in the English language.

If you have received your degree from a UK university, you will only need to provide your degree certificate. 

Age and proving your knowledge of English language

Question: My son is 17 years old, and we will submit his ILR application soon. Does he need to write an English language test?

Answer: Your son will not need to fulfill the English language requirementOnly persons over 18 years of age need to prove their knowledge of the English language unless they are exempt. Persons over 65 years of age are also exempt. 

English language tests 

Question: I need to book an English language test. What level does the test need to be? 

Answer: It will be best if you get in touch with your Breytenbachs consultant to ascertain the level of the English language test that you need to sit. Please also note that the Home Office approves only certain test centres. So, it will be worth your while to make sure you sit the test at the correct level, and at a Home Office approved test centre. 

For more information or assistance with the UK Ancestry Visa route, please contact us at or visit our website at You are also welcome to fill out the form below. 

Please note that the information in this article does not constitute professional advice. It is provided for general information purposes, without giving any warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied.