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New English Language Requirement for Non EU applicants

Posted on December 6, 2010
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New requirements for those outside the European Union who want to marry an immigrant in the UK are now in force.

The new measures meant that partners coming to the UK for marriages and civil partnerships must prove they have a command of the English language. It covers those applying to extend their stay in the UK, as well as applicants from overseas.

British Home Secretary Theresa May has said that the move will ‘help promote integration’ but critics say that the new rules are discriminatory. It is the first in a series of steps aimed at strengthening English language requirements for people wanting to live in the UK.

Under the new rules, anyone from outside the EU applying for a visa to join their spouse or partner will have to prove they know enough English to help them get by in daily life before their application is approved.

Until this month visa applicants had to show only that their marriage or partnership is genuine and that they can financially support themselves.

The Home Office said prospective spouses would have to prove that they could understand basic notices and information, be able to introduce themselves to others and ask basic level questions and write simple messages.

‘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,’ said May.

‘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,’ she added.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said the move was important because many immigrants, especially women, who could not speak English properly, became isolated from the community around them.

Officials estimate that the new language test will lead to 10% fewer applications overall and it is likely to most affect the UK’s Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. Hina Majid, of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said she supported helping immigrants to learn English, but described the new rules as discriminatory. ‘It’s unnecessary, it’s costly and it will tear migrant families apart,’ she claimed.

Don Flynn, from the Migrants’ Rights Network, said the benefits of learning English were obvious but couples should not be penalized for wanting to be together. ‘The issue here is that the right to marry and found a family is a basic human right and is it proper, is it right, that that right to marry should be made conditional on passing a test in English? Our view is that it shouldn’t be,’ he added.

In 2009, 59,000 people from outside the EU were granted a visa to live with their partner in the UK. According to the latest figures provided by the Office for National Statistics, 503,000 people moved to the UK between September 2008 and September 2009, and 361,000 people moved out.

The UK Border Agency has released a video explaining the new English language requirement.

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com

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