Naturalisation. English language requirement. Academic degree
If you want to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen, you must have sufficient knowledge of English language.
If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, you may meet the language requirement by demonstrating that you have an academic degree equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above, taught in English.
In this case, you do not have to pass an approved speaking and listening test, but you will still have to pass the Life in the UK test.
Your qualification must be academic, not vocational or professional.
If the degree was obtained from an overseas academic institution, it must be recognised by NARIC (UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre) as meeting the standard of a bachelor’s or master’s degree or PhD in the UK.
The degree must have been taught in English, in UK, in a majority English-speaking country or not.
If you studied in the UK, you must provide with your citizenship application a postgraduate diploma, or a graduate diploma from a UK university.
If you studied overseas in a majority English language speaking country, you must attach to your application for naturalisation your original degree certificate, and an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the qualification is equivalent to a UK qualification. The majority English-speaking countries for this purpose are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and USA. Be aware, Canada is not included!
If your degree has been obtained outside UK in a non-majority English-speaking country, but was taught in English, you must provide your original degree certificate, the Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUAL) from UK NARIC confirming the qualification is equivalent to a UK qualification, and an English language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from UK NARIC, confirming that the degree was taught in English.
Obviously, if your qualification has been delivered in a non-majority English-speaking country and was not taught in English, you will not be able to meet the language requirement by providing your degree certificate.
In all cases when you decide to use your degree as proof of meeting the language requirement, you must provide an original degree certificate.
If you do not have the original degree certificate because you have not received it yet (for example, when you are awaiting for graduation), you must provide instead an original academic reference from the academic institution, on official letter headed paper, showing your name, the title of award, that the qualification was taught in English, when the academic qualification will be awarded, and the date the original degree certificate will be issued. Alternatively, you may provide an academic transcript (on official letter headed paper) showing your name, the name of the academic institution, the course title, that the qualification was taught in English, and a confirmation of the award.
If you have received previously the original degree certificate, but you do not have it anymore (it has been lost, or stolen, or destroyed, or used somewhere else and not returned on time or at all), you must try to get another one from the academic institution. If you cannot get another one, for example where they refuse to issue a new original degree certificate, you must ask them for and attach to your citizenship application an original academic reference from the academic institution, on official letter headed paper, showing your name, the title of award, that the qualification was taught in English, when the academic qualification has been awarded, the date the original certificate was issued. This original academic reference must confirm that the institution is unable to re-issue the original certificate of award. Alternatively, you may provide an academic transcript (on official letter headed paper) showing your name, the name of the academic institution, the course title, that the qualification was taught in English, and a confirmation of the award.
If your level of English does not appear to match the level of your qualification, you may be suspected of using deception in relation to your qualification. In such cases, the Home Office can disregard your degree. You will receive a letter from them, explaining that the Home Office is unwilling to accept the qualification as evidence that the language requirement is met. You will be given the opportunity to take an English test with one of the providers, at an approved test centre, within the time allowed, unless it is clear that the application may be refused for other reasons.
If you want to apply for British citizenship or for a British passport and need specialist advice, feel free to contact me. Please note that I am an accredited immigration adviser, not an employee of the UK Visas and Immigration. I charge fees for the advice provided.