English test for UK marriage visa applicants

June 9, 2010

The Home Secretary has announced plans to make sure anyone applying for a UK spousal visa can speak basic English.

The new rule is scheduled to be introduced in the autumn and will require marriage visa applicants to undertake an English test to ensure they can speak and understand English to the level of a child aged 5 or 6. The changes are likely to affect around 38,000 non-EU immigrants hoping to move to the UK to either marry or join their British wives or husbands each year.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, explained, “I believe that being able to speak English should be a prerequisite for anyone who wants to settle here. The new requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services.”

She added that the tests are expected to get harder over the coming years and the number of UK marriage visas approved is likely to fall by around 6,000 a year.

The tests will be provided by overseas test centres that will have been accredited by UK immigration authorities. The UK immigration department hopes the move will reduce the number of spouses moving to the UK from the Indian subcontinent who suffer as a result of their lack of English.

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