Pre-Entry English tests for Immigrant Spouses Rejected by UK Supreme Court


23 November 2015
As the immigration crisis comes to a head, the authorities across the country are being urged to lend their support to curb the tide of illegal immigrants. However, forceful actions that can compromise the nation’s integrity are being questioned. Just recently, the Supreme Court rejected a dispute regarding an immigration regulation which would bar spouses who could not speak English from their partners in the UK.
The ruling was given in London by five justices who were asked to make a favourable ruling regarding the proposed rule which was later called ‘unreasonable and discriminatory’ by each. However, a panel that was lead by Lord Neuberger, dismissed an appeal made by two British women whose husbands did not know the language either and wished to join their wives in the country.
Called Saffana Ali and Saiqa Bibi, the women claimed that the ruling was against their right to raise a family in the country and thus violated their rights under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. It was also stated that making the men take and pass a state test before they could be allowed in was not feasible. However, the ruling was still made in favour of the court as it was not found in conflict with Article 8.
Even though the Supreme Court rejected the appeal to the ruling, the judges involved still asked the involved parties to make more submissions that could prove their case. The ruling is reflective of similar Supreme Court Rulings and in the court of appeals that the ruling did not cause any interference in family life. According to the deputy president of the Supreme Court, Deputy Hale, one suitable solution would be to ‘recast’ the guidance in order to offer exemptions for cases where requirement compliance impractical. One of the solutions proposed was for the court to declare that a case could not meet requirements and the ruling would cause a serious human rights violation.
Since 2010, spouses or partners of people settled in the UK had to pass a standard English test before they could be allowed to move into the country. Before changes were made in the immigration rules, citizens just needed to prove that they had a decent grasp of the language after living 2 years in the country.
At the end of 2011, a ruling in Birmingham dismissed the cases of three couples on the grounds that the requirement did not intrude on their right to marriage and was therefore legal. The case was seen in the best interest of the state and because it protected public service. Two of the cases were appealed in court, but the ruling was made against the wives in 2013.


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