If you are applying for settlement in the UK, your eligibility will depend on your fulfillment of a number of UK immigration requirements, including the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK for settlement and naturalization. Known as the KOLL in the UK requirement, “Knowledge of Life and Language” includes a cultural component (represented by the Life in the UK test) and an English language element. In order to be eligible for a permanent UK visa, you must fulfill both. Having previously explored the Life in the UK test and examined what is the purpose of the Life in the UK test, today’s blog will examine the “Knowledge of Language” KOLL in the UK requirement. Read on for a brief overview of Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK for settlement and naturalization, and for a detailed examination into the specific “Knowledge of Language” KOLL in the UK requirement.  

KOLL in the UK Requirement

  • The KOLL in the UK requirement is for those pursuing settlement, or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the country. If you are pursuing a traditional UK visa, such as a UK business visa or other category of temporary immigration, you will not be subject to all of the KOLL requirement.   
  • Koll is a composed of two separate requirements—Knowledge of Life and Knowledge of Language. Both of these must be fulfilled in order to be eligible for settlement. 
  • Knowledge of Life: Applicants for settlement in the country are expected to have an understanding of what life is like in the UK. This is what is the purpose of the life in the UK test—to assess your awareness of British culture, customs, and traditions. Applicants for UK settlement exclusively fulfill the “Knowledge of Life” requirement by taking and passing an official test, which consists of 24 questions about life in the UK. Click here for more information about the Knowledge of Life requirement. 
  • While applicants can only satisfy the Knowledge of Life requirement by taking the official test, there are several different ways to settle the Knowledge of Language requirement, which will be explored below.

Knowledge of Language

  • The “Knowledge of Language” component of KOLL is an English language requirement. In order to be eligible for settlement, applicants must be able to speak and understand English to a certain degree.
  •  You can meet the English language requirement through one of the following ways: 
    • Being a citizen of one of the below countries, which the UK gov defines as majority English speaking: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States.
      • Anyone from one of the above countries need only to present a passport (unexpired, valid) proving their nationality, in order to be exempt from otherwise proving they fulfill the language requirement for KOLL. 
      • Changes to the Knowledge of Language and Life requirement for settlement: please note that Malta is now officially considered by the Home Office to be one of the countries that is majority-English speaking. This means that if you are applying for UK immigration as a citizen of Malta, you will not have to formally demonstrate your ability to fulfill the English language element of the KOLL. 
    • Having graduated from an English-language college or university with a minimum bachelor’s degree (or if not bachelor’s, a degree recognized as being comparable to a British bachelor’s) in an academic (i.e. nontrade/vocational) subject. 
      • If you choose to satisfy the English language requirement in this way, you must have the UK NARIC (National Information Centre for Global Qualifications and Skills) issue an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) attesting to the fact that your degree is recognized as being equal to a British bachelor’s. 
    • Passing an official English-language test—If you neither graduated from an English language university nor are a citizen of a majority English speaking country, you can demonstrate your English-language abilities by taking what is known as a SELT (Secure English Language Test). In order to “pass” the test (i.e. receive a score that qualifies you as having achieved the English language requirement for KOLL), you must have achieved the level B1 in the Common European FreReference for Languages (CEFR), in both speaking and listening. 
      • Please note that the government will only accept SELT results from approved providers, which include: Trinity College London, LanguageCert, Pearson, and IELTS SELT Consortium (those applying from overseas can use different approved providers).
      • In addition to being from an acceptable provider, your SELT should be listed as “approved.”
      • Applicants who pass a valid SELT will receive a Unique Reference Number (URN), which they will submit on their settlement application as proof of having fulfilled the language requirement of KOLL. 
      • Please note that in most cases, the government will generally not accept as valid SELT test results that are over two years old (from the date you apply for settlement). This means that if you passed a SELT over two years before you formally applied for settlement, you may have to retake the test in order to fulfill the language requirement.  
  • In addition, the following kinds of applicants may be exempt from having to demonstrate their English abilities: 
    • Applicants applying for settlement from certain immigration categories, such as those on most UK business visas (including Skilled Worker, Sole Representative, and Temporary Worker) who demonstrated their English language abilities on their original UK visa application may not have to do so again, so long as they positively did so the first time. 
    • Applicants applying for settlement who are applying from within the country after having spent 15 years there as one of the following (partner, parent, child, or a dependent of one of the following—work permit holder, HM Forces staff, a points-based system migrant—who is on limited leave, who also achieved the A2 Level CEFR in both speaking and listening. 
    • Overseas applicants who are guaranteed (in writing) by the government’s Secretary of State to have satisfied the KOLL requirement. 
    • Highly skilled migrants, domestic violence sufferers, refugees for independent leave, and other categories of applicants (particularly those from marginalized/repressed groups) are considered exempt from the entirety of the KOLL requirement (language and life), and therefore do not have to take a SELT test or otherwise demonstrate their English language abilities. 
    • Most medical professionals (including nurses, dentists, and doctors) on leave via the Tier 2 category may be exempt from the language component of KOLL. 
  • Please note that the language requirement for settlement is stricter than the UK language immigration requirements for other immigration categories. For example, if you are applying for a representative of an overseas business visa, you need only to achieve the A1 level of the CERF TEST. 
  • Finally, please remember that even if you automatically fulfill the language requirement of KOLL, you still need to satisfy the “Knowledge of Life in the UK” requirement, which can only be satisfied by passing an official KOLL test. 
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