Naturalisation. Life in the UK test. Exemption because of physical or mental condition

Normally, to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen, the applicant must have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK. But, exceptionally, the applicant may be exempt from this requirement because of their physical or mental condition.

The caseworker has discretion to waive this requirement if, because of the physical or mental condition of the applicant, it would be unreasonable to expect them to meet it.

The requirement must be waived if the applicant suffers from a long-term illness or disability that severely restricts their ability to prepare for the Life in the UK test.

The requirement must also be waived if the applicant has a mental condition which prevents them from speaking or learning English to the required standard.

Examples of situations that lead to requirement being waived are those where the applicant is deaf, without speech, or has a speech impediment which limits their ability to communicate in English. Disabled applicants (such as those with blindness) may still be required to pass the Life in the UK test, as the centres organising it are prepared to help them sit the assessment.

If the obligation to take the Life in the UK test is waived, it does not mean that the applicant will be automatically exempt from the knowledge of English language requirement. The official guidance issued by Home Office states that, whilst it may be unreasonable for the applicant to prepare and complete the Life in the UK test, the assessment of the knowledge of English language is different and may allow the applicant to demonstrate that they satisfy the requirement.

Of course, the physical or mental condition must be demonstrated. If the applicant does not prove their condition with original and current medical evidence, including the medical waiver proforma completed by a relevant medical practitioner, they will be provided with one opportunity to bring the requested evidence, unless the application must be refused on another ground.

If this opportunity is missed and Home Office is not provided with the medical evidence and the waiver proforma, it must be considered whether the applicant satisfies the knowledge of life in the UK requirement based only on the information available to the caseworker. This may well lead to a refusal.

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.