English Language and Knowledge of Life in the UK

Following on from our posting last week regarding the statement of changes to the Immigration Rules, we have focused on the new amendments to the required standard of English language and knowledge of life in the UK.

 The method of amendment to the Rules is to insert a new appendix known as 'Appendix KOLL (Knowledge of Language and Life) .' Various rules in many categories (usually settlement applications) which require applicants to demonstrate knowledge of life in the UK have then been amended to state that applicants must satisfy appendix KOLL.  

The stated intention of the Appendix is:

'This Appendix sets out the way in which an applicant for leave to enter or remain must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the English language and about life in the United Kingdom where it is a requirement of the Rules to demonstrate this for the purposes of an application for indefinite leave to enter or remain.  It also sets out general exemptions to the requirement on grounds of age and enables the decision maker to waive the requirement in light of special circumstances in any particular case'

Specifically the appendix firstly requires a level of English (except if you come from list of countries where English is accepted as the main language- note this excludes for example South Africa) to be shown through various educational qualifications (again, strictly prescribed) or through the undertaking of a specific test. That test must be undertaken with a specific provider (again on a list!) and for the first time must exceed level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This is an increase on the previous required level of A1.

An applicant must also have the Life in UK test (updated in April). 

 There is also an extremely strange exception to the KOLL requirements, in addition to the normal exceptions for under 18's, over 65's and those with mental or physical conditions which prevent qualification. This exception states that when someone has had 15 years continuous leave here, is able to show some qualification at a lower level along with effort trying unsuccessfully to reach the required standard they will be given a pass on the requirements. This, on its face, does not appear to be an exception that will be much used.

 The remainder of the appendix adopts a similar format to PBS rules and the new appendix fm-se. The required documents are specified and but with flexibility allowed under certain terms. Howeve, there is also a rule noting : 'Where the decision-maker is satisfied that there is a valid reason why a document has not been and cannot be supplied, (for example, because the document has been permanently lost or destroyed), he or she may waive the requirement for the document to be provided or may instead request alternative or additional evidence (which may include confirmation of evidence from the organisation which issued the original document'

 The appendix reflects some fairly significant changes. They take effect on 28th October 2013. Applicants before that date can rely on the old rules. However after that both English language to a higher standard than required potentially on entry and the new Life in the UK test will be required. It is likely however that applicants unable to meet this could instead make an extension application until they can reach the required standard. If there are 15 long years of this with the applicant unable to learn English to the required standard, then there is a nice exception!