Immigrants to face English language test - Home News - UK - The Independent

Immigrants to face English language test

Immigrants coming to Britain to marry or join their partner will soon be asked to take an English language test first, the Government announced today.

All non-European migrants will have to demonstrate basic communication skills that enable them to deal with everyday life before receiving a visa.

The measure, due to come into force this autumn, will apply to spouses and unmarried couples who are already in Britain as well as overseas applicants.

Anyone wishing to come to Britain must first demonstrate they can speak English at the same level required for skilled workers admitted under the points-based system.

The introduction of an English language test was one of four key elements of the Conservatives' election manifesto.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted to promote the integration of newcomers into British society. But his deputy Nick Clegg questioned similar policies under Labour and highlighted how Britons may struggle abroad if other nations implemented tests.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "I believe being able to speak English should be a pre-requisite 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."

The prospect of English language tests for migrants heading for Britain was raised several times by the previous administration.

In 2002, the then home secretary David Blunkett announced proposals for tests on language and the ways of British life. Citizenship tests were introduced but English tests for foreign spouses failed to win backing and were quietly shelved.

The new plans mean a spouse coming from outside Europe must provide evidence they have passed an English language test by an approved provider.

Visa applicants in these circumstances must already meet a range of criteria before being allowed to enter the UK under current rules.

All applicants must show their marriage or partnership is genuine and that they can support themselves financially.

Whether people are married in the UK or overseas, the non-UK partner must apply for a two-year settlement visa to come and live in the UK as a spouse.

At the end of the two years they can apply to the UK Border Agency for indefinite leave to remain.

Last year some 38,000 visas for spouses were granted and a further 21,000 people were granted indefinite leave to remain.

The move is likely to have a particular impact on Britain's Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, who make up a large proportion of these figures.

Isabella Sankey, of Liberty, labelled the news "disgraceful" and said some people may be unfairly penalised.

She said: "While a good command of English is clearly beneficial for someone settling in the UK with their partner or spouse, making this a prerequisite to entering the country is disgraceful.

"What happens to the happily married British citizen with a non English-speaking spouse who returns from abroad to care for elderly parents?

"Surely a common-sense approach would acknowledge how much easier it is to learn English once in the UK."

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Nurse

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Bristol: Nursery nurse jobs in Chippenham...

Science Teacher required for a lovely Ramsgate Secondary School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is working in...

SEN Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher loo...

Teacher

£110 - £125 per day + Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone: Randsta...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week