In future immigrants from non European Union Countries who wish to join their spouse or settled partner (those with permanent residence or British Citizenship) in the UK will need to pass an English language test. From Autumn 2010 immigrants will need to show that they are at a high enough English ability to deal with everyday life in the UK.
- Husband or wife
- Civil Partner
- Unmarried Partner
- Same-sex Partner
This will cover applicants based both in the UK and overseas. Home Secretary Theresa May had the following to say:
'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.'
The change will mean that partners will need to show basic English at A1 level which is at the same level as required for skilled workers under the Tier 2 visa scheme. You will also in future have to pass an English language test by an approved test provider. UKBA also confirmed in their news report that you will still need to show that your relationship is genuine and that you can support yourselves financially to come under a "partner" visa. At the end of two years on the basis of one of these "partner" based visas you can apply for indefinite leave to remain; This is also known as settlement. You will need to pass the 'knowledge of language and life in the UK' test and meet the new English language requirements.
Hina Majid of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants had the following to say, "Forcing husbands and wives to take language tests before they even arrive in the U.K. will rip families apart." Ms Majid went onto say, "These new rules are likely to hit people from South Asia and Africa, where English is not the main language. It may also hit women harder and discriminate most against the poorest."
The tougher English language requirements will mean a reduction in the number of people who qualify for entry on a spouse or partner visa which will help the new UK Government to reduce immigration to the UK. This is just one of a number of steps that the new UK Coalition Government will be taking to cut immigration into the UK. Yet again, it has to be said that if you wish to come under the current more liberal immigration laws you should apply sooner rather than later.