This year in April, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) announced in its April 2013 Statement of intent that the government is planning changes to the Immigration Rules in relation to the English language requirement when applying for settlement and naturalisation. These planned changes will not take place until 28 October 2013. Here, we explore how the English language requirement affects non-European migrants and the reasons behind the government’s stringent requirements on this.
Reasoning behind UKBA’s current English Language Requirement
In June 2010, Home Secretary Theresa May announced that from November 2010 people applying for entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain as a fiancé (e), proposed civil partner, spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner or same sex partner of a British citizen or a person settled in the UK will have to pass a compulsory English test before they are granted a visa. At the time, Theresa May said spouses should have a basic command of English and explained:
“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.”
The Government is of the view that understanding and being able to use English at a level which facilitates interaction with the wider community is key to successful integration.
UK Visa Applicants: Meeting the English Language Requirement
Currently, an applicant can meet the UKBA’s English language requirement in one of the following ways:
- By passing an acceptable test at a minimum level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) with an approved provider, or
- By being a national of a majority English speaking country, or
- By having an academic qualification recognised by UK NARIC to be equivalent to the standard of a Bachelors/Master’s degree or PHD in the UK which was taught in English.
The UKBA provides an exemption for those aged 65 or over, those who have a mental or physical disability or those who have exceptional circumstances which prevent them from meeting the requirement.
October 2013: New UK English Language Requirement Rules
From 28 October 2013, there will be two parts to the Knowledge of Language and Life (KoLL) requirement, both of which must be met by all applicants for settlement unless an exemption applies. Applicants will be required to:
- Pass the Life in the UK test; and
- Have a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 CEFR or higher or an equivalent level qualification.
Are you affected by the UKBA ‘English Language Requirement’?
If you would like to discuss how the English language requirement may affect you, call one of our immigration solicitors in London who will be able to assist you by meeting with you and reviewing your case.