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Life in the UK test: why does the UK need one?

Life in the UK test

The Life in the UK test was introduced in 2005 for naturalisation and in 2007 for settlement. People who are applying for naturalisation or for settlement, (also called indefinite leave to remain) and whose level of English is ESOL 3 or above, must pass this test.

This test has been designed to evaluate two things: applicants’ knowledge of British life and applicants’ abilities in the English language. Through the test, the UK government is assessing that citizenship applicants have sufficient knowledge of the life in the United Kingdom and sufficient knowledge of English.

The test is required under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

The Home Office’s aim was to develop a more meaningful way of becoming a citizen, and help people integrate better into British customs and values. Immigration Minister Tony McNulty said: “This is not a test of someone’s ability to be British or a test of their Britishness. It is a test of their preparedness to become citizens, in keeping with the language requirement as well.”
The failure rate of this test is almost 30%. This is a significant percentage. Of course citizenship should be given away, but why do we need a citizenship test?

Many countries around the world have come up with a similar test. Australia launched a citizenship test in 2007. In Europe, the Netherlands and Germany have launched their own citizenship test in the last 10 years also. In North America, The United States and Canada have citizenship test as part of the citizenship requirements. Governments seem to value the citizenship test as a key part in applying for citizenship.

The test by itself is not a bad idea. If someone wants to become a UK citizen, he/she should have a sufficient knowledge of UK’s culture, political system and practicalities for example. Citizenship is a privilege, and a person who is applying for it should know the rights and responsibilities associated with it.

The Life in the UK test is mostly in English (you can request to pass it in Welsh or Scottish Gaelic, depending on where your test centre is). The test also assesses a candidate’s level of English. This is important as part of the integration process. A person with good English skills should have his/her job search or business enhanced. He/she will also be able to understand all the official and legal information necessary to apply for various benefits for example.
Naturally a newcomer could do without speaking English, by living and working mostly within his/her community. But this is not the goal of the UK government; this is not what multiculturalism should be in the UK.

What do you think of the life in the UK test?

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