Who needs to take the citizenship test
Applying for naturalisation of British citizenship? Check here and find out if you need to take the Life in the UK test.
The Life in the UK Test is a compulsory requirement for most people wanting to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen or permanent residence – also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or settlement.
This article covers who needs to take the Life in the UK Test when applying for citizenship. If you are applying for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) then please see Who needs to take the test – Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
If you meet the standard requirements for naturalisation then you are likely eligible to apply for citizenship. If you are applying through a non-standard channel you should check you are eligible here.
Normally, you are only eligible to apply for British citizenship 12 months after you are granted ILR as this is when you become ‘free from immigration time restrictions’. This extra requirement means that achieving British citizenship takes an extra year compared to ILR.
For people applying as the spouse or partner of someone settled in the UK or a British citizen then you do not need to wait for 12 months after being granted ILR. As long as you have been resident in the UK for at least three years and are free from immigration time restrictions on the date you apply (for instance, you can apply from the date you are granted ILR as this frees you from time restrictions) you qualify for citizenship. Full details of the requirements can be found on the UKBA website.
Compared to the exemptions for people applying for settlement, there are very few exemptions when applying for citizenship. This is because the requirement to demonstrate knowledge of life and language in the UK is stated in the law and very few considerations are allowed.
People over 65 years of age are exempted. Also, anyone who satisfied the settlement-stage requirements to have sufficient knowledge of language and life in the
UK do not have to do it again.
You may be exempt if you have a significant physical or mental health condition. This condition must prevent you from permanently studying for or taking the test, or from studying for an ESOL qualification. Please note that if your condition responds to treatment that you will be expected to take the test.
Conditions such as stress and depression are not grounds for exemption. There are also no exemptions on the grounds of illiteracy.
There are no exemptions for long residence. There are no exemptions if you have certain qualifications, or have invested a certain amount of money in the UK.
You are also not exempt if you come from an English speaking country, although this may mean you are exempt from the requirement to have an English language qualification.
As demonstrating knowledge of life and language in the UK became a legal requirement in 2007, you must now pass a test or take a combined ESOL-citizenship course before applying for naturalisation, even if you were exempt when you applied for settlement. The only exception is if the exemption was agreed on grounds of your age or a physical or mental impairment.
If you have already passed the test when getting ILR you do not need to sit the test again.