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Mandatory English tests for immigrant spouses are fair, High Court rules | Immigration Matters

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Judges in the High Court have dismissed a legal challenge to laws that require immigrant spouses to be able to speak English in order to live in the UK.

Three couples had brought the British Government to court over Immigration Rules introduced in November 2010.

But Mr Justice Beatson ruled the new language test was not a ‘disproportionate interference’ with the couples’ right to family life.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the ruling would affect many UK citizens.

But Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “We believe it is entirely reasonable that someone intending to live in the UK should understand English, so that they can integrate and participate fully in our society.

“We are very pleased that the courts agree with us.”

Cost of translators cited by Home Office

The Home Office, which had also cited the costs of translators and interpreters for the NHS and other public services, now requires anyone entering the UK to join their spouse to speak a minimum level of English.

Earlier this year the High Court, sitting in Birmingham, was told the tougher language tests were racist and discriminated against British-Indian families.

But in his judgement on Friday, Mr Justice Beatson ruled that the changes did not interfere with the rights of the claimants, “since it does not prevent marriage within the UK where both parties are present, or prevent anyone within the UK from travelling abroad to get married”.

He ruled the aims – to promote integration and to protect public services – were “legitimate aims”.

Mr Justice Beatson said: “The new rule does not indirectly discriminate on the grounds of nationality, ethnic origins or disability.”

One of those who had challenged the decision was Rashida Chapti, a British citizen, who has been married for almost 40 years to her husband, Vali.

The couple have six children and have divided their time for 15 years between Leicester and India.

His wife wants him to move permanently to the UK but Mr Chapti does not speak, read or write English.

The new Immigration Rules require Mr Chapti to show a basic knowledge of English before he can be given permission to stay.

Earlier this year Manjit Gill QC, for the Chaptis, told the High Court the rules breached their rights to a family life and constituted racial discrimination because they prevented a British citizen living with her husband purely because he was a foreign citizen who did not speak English.

“‘The rule is designed, putting it crudely, to keep out persons who tend to marry within their communities, who tend to have arranged marriages, who tend to be from the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East in particular,” said Mr Gill.

‘Disappointed’, say JCWI

Hina Majid, legal policy director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said she was disappointed by the ruling.

She said: “No-one in their right mind would pretend that learning English is not a good thing for immigrants in the UK to do.

“This ruling, however, will mean that many British citizens will continue to experience enforced and indefinite separation from loved ones, partners and, in some cases, their children.

“It is already a legal requirement that partners and spouses must demonstrate linguistic skills shortly after arrival in the UK.

“In countries experiencing conflict, poverty, natural disasters, and political instability, it can however be extremely difficult to acquire linguistic skills prior to arrival in the UK.

“Spouses in parts of Sudan, Yemen and Gaza for example often struggle to find decent tuition.”

In an assessment of the policy earlier this year government officials accepted it could have a “disproportionate impact on certain nationalities or racial groups” but argued that any indirect discrimination would be justified because the policy would improve integration. Source: BBC

The ruling will be welcomed by the Home Office, which has suffered a number of recent setbacks to plans to tighten up the rules on marriage and settlement of foreign spouses or civil partners.

In October the ban on non-EU foreign spouses under the age of 21 coming to the UK was ruled unlawful by judges following a challenge backed by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI).

The judgement came less than a month after the UK Border Agency confirmed in a letter to ILPA that it will be looking at putting regulations to reflect the Zambrano judgment in place ‘before the close of 2011 at the earliest’.

The UK Border Agency interprets the Zambrano judgment to apply to: a) third country nationals upon whom British children are dependent and b) third country nationals upon whom a British citizen adult is dependent. It takes the view that the judgment does not apply in cases where dependency is simply financial.

Proposed new minimum salary rules could block thousands of foreign partners from coming to the UK.

As many as 40,000 foreign wives, husbands and partners were granted visas to join their family in the UK last year, the Daily Mail reports. But new minimum salary proposals would mean that two thirds of foreign wives could be banned from the UK under plans to stop immigrants becoming ‘a burden on the state’.

Government immigration advisers say that the minimum salary required to bring a spouse to Britain should go up significantly, and may even be doubled.

The proposals could mean more than half of the UK’s population would not be able to bring in a foreign partner, as they might not earn enough to support them without relying on benefits.

In another challenge, this time on behalf of Senior Care worker, the JCWI successfully got through a stage in their appeal to win settlement rights (Indefinite Leave to Remain) for Senior Care Workers who came to the UK on Work Permits.

See also:

Raising the amount husbands must earn to £26,000 would disqualify two thirds of immigrant brides, according to government watchdog MAC

Senior Carers Workers win stage in appeal for right to settle in UK

UK Border Agency issues new policy guidance on age 21 marriage visas following Quila and Bibi judgement

Court overturns UK Government’s non-EU under 21 spouses ban

JCWI and ILPA update on Zambrano case

EctHR Judgment Bah v UK

UK Border Agency announce further changes to the student visa system

Report illegal immigrants Prime Minister urges in new immigration crackdown

‘Health tourists’ debtors will face UK ban

‘Pet cat Human Rights Appeal’ overstaying student was a shoplifter

Employment restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians extended until end of 2013

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk

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18 Responses to “Mandatory English tests for immigrant spouses are fair, High Court rules”
Read them below or add one

  1. […] Mandatory English tests for immigrant spouses are fair, High Court rules […]

  2. […] Mandatory English tests for immigrant spouses are fair, High Court rules […]

  3. Ilham Mahroof says :

    @ Charles Kelly; The example i have used may not be of reference to you i presume, but many others will and can relate to it.

  4. Perhaps not a very good example then?

  5. ILHAM MAHROOF says :

    @ Charles Kelly…

    Capello has nothing to do with this topic and I am not talking about any EU law..!!! I just took him as an example.
    What I am trying to say was,let the loved one of the British citizen come and live with their partner in the UK even though they do not speak good English. As time goes by they will learn English (As I mentioned in my example). You can make it mandatory after a certain years ( example in 2years ) when they come to extend the visa for indefinite stay..it makes sense ??

    If someone wants to marry a deaf person from a non-EU country what kind of a test does he/she have to face ??

    Again I would like to quote our immigration minister Mr.Damian Green ”“We believe it is entirely reasonable that someone intending to live in the UK should understand English, so that they can integrate and participate fully in our society”

    Does a British person require French or Spanish prior to marry and live(intergrate and participate fully)in France or Spain ??

    Mr.Minister wants the spouse of the British citizen to integrate and participate fully in our society. If its the honest reason for having the English test, I feel sorry for the Non-English speakers of EU countries who are suffering to ”integrate and participate fully” in the UK.

    When you make a LAW you should always make it with sense..!! If anyone from the EU countries can come, work and live in the UK without any restrictions but spouse(non-EU) of our British citizen can not even enter to the UK without passing the English test ?? not making any sense to me…its indirectly disriminating, especially asians.

  6. Capello is of course Itallian and a member of the EU. He could legally work in the UK even if he could not speak a word of English. He could also bring a non-EU bride to the UK under EEA Immigration Rules. Even EU nurses and doctors can practice here without an English test or an adaptation course (ONP) because of EU laws!
    Half the premier league footabllers would not pass an English test including some of the English players! Have you seen Wayne Rooney’s tweets?
    Teams like Chelsea and Arsenal hardly have any native born players.

  7. Jacqui says :

    There are English born students who leave school without an Entry Level 1 qualification. Yet this ‘fair’ system is asking people first language is not English to learn and acquire this qualification. Let us understand this properly it is not about speaking, writing English, it is about sitting a full test. Let’s be honest! Yes spouses should learn but let it be a requirement in terms of employment, not to enter the UK as a spouse. What about the English patrons abroad have they sat their tests – Spanish, French etc

  8. ILHAM MAHROOF says :

    ”It was initially mentioned that Capello’s POOR ENGLISH SKILLS might rule him out of the position, but the Football Association stated that this was not so. He was formally appointed as England manager on 14 December 2007,After being confirmed for the job,Capello announced on the day of his unveiling that it was a dream come true to manage the England national team and that HE HOPED TO LEARN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN THE FOLLOWING MONTH prior to his first official meeting with the players.” (REF:WiKi)

    I would like to ask all of you who believe “We believe it is entirely reasonable that someone intending to live in the UK should understand English, so that they can integrate and participate fully in our society”

    Who is more likely to ”integrate and participate” fully in our society soon after arrival to the UK? Capello or the newly married partner ?? if Capello hoped to learn english,then why is it not possible to give a chance to the husband/wife of the british citizen to learn english as well in the UK??

    My own conclusion: Please grant the Visa to the husband/wife of a british citizen without the need of an english test,then make it mandatory when they come to extend it to an indefinite visa after two years.

  9. Rango Lal Chakrabarty says :

    ***Mandatory English tests for immigrant spouses are fair, High Court rules.

    ***Judges in the High Court have dismissed a legal challenge to laws that require immigrant spouses to be able to speak English in order to live in the UK.

    Although above Rules of the High Court is to be properly adequate to any educated person of world except European or American or English knowledge nationals, but most of the peoples of the world does not know speak English or how to read or write. I think that as such rules of the High Court may affect in future to British citizen(s). As example-think, any person of the royal family or any British citizen to fall in love or bond of love to someone who is a Indian, Somalian, Israeli or other nationals an illiterate, who has no English knowledge, speak or write, but he (British citizen) is very eager to marry her/him, if he/she cannot marry him/her result will less of life (death). Under such circumstances what is to be done by the High Court Rules. Therefore, I think, who is to be an immigrant spouse he/she must acquire English knowledge after arrival in the UK.

  10. to help the students in studies and english is really good .Some other facts moving to uk should also be counted

  11. It should be law and also enforced that spouces should be able to speak English as this does not only affect their ability to get around but if the do work then this becomes a big problem. I am working for an agency in Bradford and can say 95% of the workers are either Eastern European or Asians who cant speak English or struggle to do so.This is in a work environment where English is used for business and communication for a very big retailer.You cannot expect the retailer to accomodate them if they cannot speak English nomatter how hard they work.Instructions,procedures and all that goes at work,is all in English. So I say this rule must be enforced in organisations and probably spot checks implimented especially with agencies.

  12. Thats unfair,,love is all about feelings and it should not be mandatory to speak English to marry someone and to stay together in UK.
    I am an Indian and if we say that to marry indian bride one has to speak hIndi. Will it be possible for British people. Half of the population will be single then.
    Just think sense.

  13. How fair is the mandatory English test?
    I believe in the fact that for a better integration people coming to live in this country should as soon as they are here learn English.
    But asking people to be able to speak english before entering in this country, I think is all but no fair.
    What about people coming from a french or spanish speaking country?
    What about people running from war-towns?
    I think the running should not penalise a lot more people because of the case of few.

  14. I think the point that Joe is trying to make is that many come on Holiday end up using end up staying longer then plannned or stated and use state resources.

    It up to the state to make sure the system does not allow this ito happen

  15. Joe’s question: ‘How about for tourist(vacation) they need learn english?’

    Well, let’s think about that one…I never heard of a country insisting that a tourist must learn the native language before being able to visit. I don’t think the world would have a tourist industry if we all had to learn a language before visiting!

  16. […] Mandatory English tests for immigrant spouses are fair, High Court rules […]

  17. How about for tourist(vacation) they need learn english?

  18. […] Mandatory English tests for immigrant spouses are fair, High Court rules […]

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