Govt to introduce English test for immigrants
09 June 2010
Compulsory English language tests will be introduced for non-European migrants applying to come to the UK to join or marry their settled partner, the UK government announced today.
From autumn 2010, they will need to demonstrate a basic command of English which allows them to cope with everyday life before they are granted a visa.
The new rules will apply to anyone applying as the husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner, same-sex partner, fiance(e) or prospective civil partner of a UK citizen or a person settled in this country. They will be compulsory for people applying from within the UK as well as visa applicants from overseas.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
"I believe being able to speak English should be a prerequisite for anyone who wants to settle here. The new English requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services. "
"It is a privilege to come to the UK, and that is why I am committed to raising the bar for migrants and ensuring that those who benefit from being in Britain contribute to our society. "
"This is only the first step. We are currently reviewing English language requirements across the visa system with a view to tightening the rules further in the future. "
"Today's announcement is one of a wide range of measures the new government is taking to ensure that immigration is properly controlled for the benefit of the UK, alongside a limit on work visas and an effective system for regulating the students who come here."
Anyone wishing to come to the UK as a partner will need to demonstrate basic English at A1 level, the same level required for skilled workers admitted under Tier 2 of the points-based system.
A partner coming to the UK from outside Europe will need to provide evidence with their visa application that they have passed an English language test with one of our approved test providers.
Under the current rules, people applying for visas as partners must already meet a range of criteria before being allowed to enter the UK. All applicants must show that their marriage or partnership is genuine, and that they can support themselves financially.
Whether they have married in the UK or overseas (or not at all), the non-UK partner must apply for a two-year settlement visa to come and live in the UK as a husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner. At the end of the two years, they can apply to us for permission to settle in the UK (known as 'indefinite leave to remain').
Partners who apply for settlement after completing their two-year period of temporary residence will still need to meet the 'knowledge of language and life in the UK' test. This is in addition to the new basic English language requirement, which forms part of their initial application.