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Yes, You Will Need to Take the Life in the UK Test | Immigration Matters

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Just when you think you are going to be able to stay in the UK permanently, new settlement rules may cause delay to your dream. Earlier this year the Home Office increased the qualification period from 4 to 5 years for work permit holders applying for permanent residence, now they are introducing a new UK Life Test and English language requirement as from April 2007.

I have already been asked by several people, “How would these changes affect my status in the UK and what do I have to do now to qualify?”

Remember that the Home Office has increased the number of years to gain permanent residence. Check the table below to see the time needed to stay in the UK for different visa criteria.

Visa Criteria

Time Needed to Qualify for ILR

Work permit holder, HSMP, Ancestry, Investor, Writer, Composer, Artist, Sole Representative, Business Person, Domestic

5 years

Married/Unmarried

2 years

Lawful Stay on any Basis

10 years

Unlawful stay or combination of lawful and lawful stay

14 years

The Home Office introduced the language and UK life test in November 2005 for British Citizenship applicants. However, starting on 2 April 2007, people who apply for “Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)” will also have to prove their English skills and take the test to qualify.

The Government believes that those who wish to make the UK their home should embrace the common language and have an understanding of life in the UK to be able to play an active role in their community.

The tests will assure the government that migrants have the practical skills and knowledge needed to live in the UK. The central parts of the government’s managed migration policy are for migrants to develop good race relations and to be able to integrate in society.

If you have been here for 5 years and are able to submit your application before April 2007, you will be lucky enough not to have to take the test. Keep in mind that you need to submit an application no earlier than 28 days before your 5th year date.

For applicants (18-65 years old) who intend to apply for indefinite leave to remain on or before April 2 next year, you will have to avoid “Taglish” and prove that your English ability is equivalent of ESOL Entry 3. Applicants who have either a physical or mental impairment that prevents them from taking the test or studying an ESOL may be exempt.

What is ESOL?

English for Speakers of Other Languages is the level of language standards that the government has set for permanent residence applicants whose first language is not English.

Change the Channel from TFC to BBC

If you are already ESOL entry 3 (or higher) or can prove that you have studied in the UK, you will still need to take the “UK Life test”. This means that you will need to change the TV channel from TFC to BBC. You will also need to read the handbook, Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship, as enthusiastically as you read about the life of Pinoy Big Brother contestants.

Life in the UK test

The test consists of 24 questions based on UK structures, laws, democratic processes and traditions and the pass mark is 75%. The information you will need is contained in the Life in the UK handbook. A revised handbook is due to be published in early 2007, so you will need to check which handbook your test will cover. The handbook is available from, The Stationery Office, as well as many bookshops, and is priced at £9.99.

The test itself will cost you £ 34 every time you need to take it. You will need to book the test in one of the 100 or so Life in the UK test centres. It is computer based, so people who are not computer literate will be encouraged to get some training or practice at www.lifeintheuktest.gov.uk.

Try and try until you succeed

There is no limit to how many times you can take the test. Failing the test does not mean deportation if you continue to meet the other requirements of the immigration rules. However, the government will closely monitor cases of individuals who persistently fail to meet the new requirements and the non-removal policy is under review. If you find the test difficult, it would be advisable to enrol in citizenship courses.

Make sure that you apply for further leave to remain in the usual way if you do not manage to gain ILR. If you don’t extend your visa and/or work permit if it is due to expire, you may be subject to removal.

Practice Makes Perfect

You can practice on the www.lifeintheuktest.gov.uk website, read the newspapers, watch English-speaking TV, research on the internet, and study the handbook.

If you have any specific questions or comments, or need advice, please email me: cbarker@immigrationmatters.co.uk

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