As promised, here’s a detailed post on English language requirements for a British spouse visa application. One of the few requirements that seemed easy-peasy to me, because they want a spouse to speak at least A1 level English. Ha! I laughed and almost forgot about this one as I had a non-expiry CAE C1 certificate and a bachelor degree taught in English, what else? We were also thinking of adding ‘and I understand my mother in law who is coming from Islay’. Joky-jokes, but reality hit me from where I wasn’t expecting.

During the visa preparation period, I was reading and re-reading the entire Home Office (HO) website a few times a day, just in case. As well as various forums which helped to get a much better idea on visa application process. So, after a concentrated research, it turned out that neither my C1 test nor my b/a diploma was suitable enough to prove my knowledge of English! How come? Yeah right, that was my reaction exactly. Here’re the steps of my research.

Home Office page

Turned out, I didn’t read this page carefully enough the first time as I was absolutely convinced that I had this one covered. The first thing that got my attention was ‘You can prove your knowledge of English by passing an approved English language test with at least a CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening’. I was like, alright… Approved test? I had a Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English, I passed a test in 2012 in Barcelona in the British Council office, what more? Isn’t it good enough? The answer is NO. If you open the link, you’ll see the ‘proper’ tests and won’t find CAE in the list… Only IELTS.

Just in case, I decided to check the info at the CAE website. And here’s what I found:

Since the 6 April 2015, IELTS for UKVI (IELTS is jointly managed by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English), and a new test called IELTS Life Skills are the only Cambridge English exams included on the UK government list of Secure English Language Tests. 


In other circumstances, I would have still presented that CAE and whatever. Many times my visa applications were missing something, or documents were not translated, or else what. But knowing that HO can be really bananas about details, this time I decided to play their game. 

Alright, fine. So, even though I knew that I would attach my C1 results anyway, I had to think about taking the new exam. Just in case huh?

This led me to the British Council Germany. But the only place where one might pass this specific test in Life Skills is in Dusseldorf. Ok, that was getting ridiculous since, as you remember, I was a Berlin resident. I had zero intentions in passing another test and definitely none to travel just for a test. (But still had to travel to Dusseldorf for my visa application)

So, the test route was closed. Ok, fine. I checked everything and I decided to rely on my university degree. Wrong again!

Just your uni degree taught in English is not enough. Here’s the quote from the HO page:

You can prove your knowledge of English if BOTH:

•you have a degree or academic qualification that was taught or researched in English

•your qualification is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher. You’ll need to send a certificate from UK NARIC confirming this when you apply.

So, reading the page for the first time I missed the BOTH part. I had to confirm my degree with NARIC. When I started creating the application, turned out, additionally to my diploma I needed a letter from Uni saying that my degree was taught entirely in English. Application cost about £60. I got a letter from NARIC (not a certificate though, a letter) delivered to my partner’s house saying that they could confirm that my level of English was equivalent to B1. They said I should contact them if I wanted to get a certificate for the extra £20, but I decided that the letter should be enough.

In the beginning, I was a bit meh, why B1? But I couldn’t let my pride still my time and energy.  Appealing for a higher level would have taken another half a year and money and nerves. Ok, fine. HO wants A1, I show them B1 and a university degree.

I also attached my CV & all of my diplomas, our messages with hubby; I wrote a supporting letter for myself (and corrected those of my husband and our friend). But I couldn’t have jumped over my height. If all of these wasn’t enough, I didn’t know what would be.

But it all turned out fine. The lesson I learned from this particular part is to pay more attention and read such things more carefully. My friends were laughing at me for reading too many forums and getting myself some serious panic attacks. But hey, British spouse visa IS one of the hardest to get. And I have read not one but quite a few stories when couples had to re-apply (meaning = pay the full amount again) just because of a wrong English language test. My advice: stay calm and give them what they want. It will save you some sanity, time and money.

Feel free to comment in the section below!

xx Liza

Showing 3 comments
  • Mikhail

    Liza, thank you for this vivid and informative article. It was a real pleasure reading it :)

    • Liza

      Oh, my pleasure! Thank you for reading! <3

  • Angeline

    I all the time emailed this weblog post page to all
    my associates, since if like to read it next my contacts will too.

Leave a Comment