Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Immigration Corner: Must I prove I know English?

Published:Tuesday | March 29, 2016 | 3:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I will be making an application for settlement in the United Kingdom and I am told that I may need to prove my knowledge of the English language. I am Jamaican. Does this apply to me? Please let me know.

- SE

Dear SE,

Persons might need to prove their knowledge of the English language if over 18 years old and applying for citizenship or making an application to settle in the United Kingdom which is known as 'indefinite leave to remain'.

A person can prove this by having either: an English qualification at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level or a degree taught or researched in English. A citizenship or settlement application will be refused if the applicant sends the wrong qualifications.

It should be noted that a person does not need to prove his/her knowledge of English in certain circumstances. If already in the United Kingdom a person may be able to extend his/her permission to stay, so that he/she can prove his/her knowledge of English.

A person will not need to prove his/her knowledge of English if he/she is aged 65 years or over; or unable to, because of a long-term physical or mental condition. Please note that the applicant will need to provide a letter from a doctor confirming the physical or mental condition.

I note that you have stated that you are Jamaican and this is one of the nationalities that is exempt. Other nationalities that will not need to prove knowledge of English are citizens of : Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland (for citizenship only), St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA.

Please be aware that there are no other exemptions if a person is applying to become a British citizen. A person must have a relevant English language qualification even if he/she were exempt when that person was granted settlement.

There are exemptions if a person is applying to settle in the United Kingdom. A person will not need to prove his/her knowledge of English if applying as any of the following: a victim of domestic violence as the partner or spouse of a British citizen or someone settled in the United Kingdom; the partner or spouse of a person who has died who was either a British citizen or someone settled in the United Kingdom; or an adult dependent relative between 18 years and 64 years of someone who is present and settled in the United Kingdom, is a refugee or has humanitarian protection.

Other exemptions may apply to a refugee living in the United Kingdom; a person living in the United Kingdom with discretionary leave; a person living in the United Kingdom with humanitarian protection; or someone who has permission to stay in the United Kingdom as a retired person of independent means.

Also, an exemption may apply to a Commonwealth citizen on discharge from HM Forces, including the Gurkhas; a highly skilled migrant applying under the terms of the highly skilled migrant program (HSMP) judicial review and his/her dependents; or a person in exceptional circumstances, for example, as an orphan, widow or over-age dependent.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (U.K.). Email:lawbassie@yahoo.com