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English test exemption


For all visa applications but for visit visa there is a requirement to sit and pass an approved english language test. There is no test centre in Gambia so all Gambian residents wishing to take this test have to travel to Dakar. With the border closed between Gambia and Senegal this has not been possible which is leaving many people separated from their families. This exemption applies to all those people.

Here we explain the specific exemption due to COVID-19 and the general exemption due to other circumstances.

This is what the UK Government update states:

1.9 Coronavirus (COVID-19)

"If an applicant is required to take an English language test as part of their application, they can apply for an exemption if the test centre is closed or inaccessible due to COVID-19 when they applied."

In essence, the test centre in Dakar is not accessible to people resident in Gambia because you cannot and should legally travel to Dakar to complete the test. The test centre may be open but your exemption would still be active due to the border closure. When the border reopens and the test centre is still closed due to COVID-19, this exemption will still apply. If the border open and test centre also open, but it is difficult and costly to get there, you will not be exempted.

This is the general exemption also provided by the UK Government (Home Office)

Countries with no approved A1 test provision

From 24 July 2014, applicants who are resident in a country with no approved A1 English language test are expected to travel to another country to take such a test, subject to the transitional arrangements in the next paragraph. Only where they can demonstrate in their entry clearance application that it is not practicable or reasonable for them to do so will they be exempt from the requirement prior to entry to the UK. This exemption will not be applicable where an approved A1 test is available in the applicant’s country of long-term residence.

Reasons why it is not practicable or reasonable for an applicant to take an approved A1 test in another country will normally require more than inconvenience or reluctance to travel overseas. Subject to supporting evidence, such reasons might exist where for example:

· exit visa requirements or restrictions make it very difficult for the applicant to travel overseas

· the applicant faces insuperable problems in meeting immigration requirements to visit a country with an approved test centre

· the applicant faces unreasonable additional travel or accommodation costs to visit a country with an approved test centre. Some applicants as a partner or parent already incur travel and accommodation costs to attend an approved test centre in their own country or to give their biometrics at a Visa Application Centre. In addition, applicants for a settlement visa as a partner or parent are required to meet a financial requirement and it is reasonable to expect that they (or their sponsor in a partner application) will generally be able to afford reasonable costs incurred in making their application

· other exceptional circumstances prevent the applicant taking an approved A1 test in another country

Each application for an exemption from the requirement for A1 English prior to entry to the UK because it is not practicable or reasonable for the applicant to take an approved A1 test in another country will be considered on its merits on a case-by-case basis.

Please note this is not an automatic exemption, you need to ask for it.


This information is intended solely for information and is not legal advice. If you take action base on this without proper legal advice you take it at your own risk and we take or assume no responsibility for it whatsoever.

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