Migrants in fresh English tests

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Spouses must learn English before visa granted

COMPULSORY English language tests will be introduced for migrants applyingto come to the UK to join their partner or marry, the Government announced today.

From Autumn all non-European migrants will have to demonstrate a basic command of English that allows them to cope with everyday life before they are granted a visa.

The rules will apply to spouses, civil partnerships, unmarried couples, same sex partners and fiancés, and will be compulsory for people applying from within the UK, as well as visa applicants from overseas.

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.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the new rules would help “promote integration”and “remove cultural barriers”.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Anyone wishing to come to the UK as a spouse will have to demonstrate basic English at A1 level, the same level required for skilled workers admitted under the Skilled Tier of the Points Based System.

A spouse coming from outside Europe will need to provide evidence to the UK Border Agency with their visa application that they have passed an English language test with one of the UK Border Agency’s approved test providers.

Under the current rules spousal visa applicants already have to meet a range of criteria before being allowed to enter the UK. All applicants must show their marriage or partnership is genuine and that they can support themselves financially.

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