Indian spouses wanting to enter the UK, will have to pass English test

December 6th, 2007 - 1:16 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec.6 (ANI): The British Home Office has said that a foreign spouse should know and speak English if he or she wants to enter the country.
According to The Telegraph, this latest proposal will have a particular impact on South Asian communities.
Britains Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshis between them saw 17,000 spouses or fiancees enter the UK from their home countries last year, sometimes as a result of arranged marriages.
The paper quoted Immigration Minister Liam Byrne as saying: “We are underlining how important we see command of the English language. ‘If we are serious about English, shouldnt we give these individuals a flying start in the UK by asking them to speak English from the day they arrive?” The measure is among a package of new immigration measures announced by the Gordon Brown Government.
Others include shutting the door to low skilled workers from outside the EU. Under a new points system, they will not be able to come to Britain if there are enough home grown and EU workers able to fill vacancies.
But the English test for spouses is the most controversial component of what Ministers called ”the biggest ever overhaul of the immigration system”.
Each year, nearly 50,000 foreigners are allowed into the country as a spouse or fiance.
Ministers believe that insisting upon proficiency in English will make it easy for new arrivals to integrate.
But the plan, should it be introduced, will inevitably lead to court challenges. The Human Rights Act guarantees a right to family life that could be jeopardised if a new husband must leave his bride behind.
English tests were introduced for foreigners taking British citizenship from November 2005 and extended to those seeking settlement in April this year.
Research has found that when UK nationals who themselves speak English poorly - or only outside the home - marry non-English speakers from outside Britain, they often form families where English is never spoken fluently.
A consultation paper proposes that the required level of English should only be “very basic”. A spouse or fiance would be expected to understand simple questions, read common signs and symbols and understand simple instructions. If they failed the test, they might be prevented from joining their spouse, even if they have children.
However, officials said in such circumstances they might be allowed in temporarily to learn English.
The measures are part of Labour’s effort to rebuild public confidence in the immigration system.
The new points-based system will be phased in next year, starting with highly skilled workers like entrepreneurs and doctors. They will be fast-tracked into the country and will no longer need to have a job to go to.
Bryne dismissed complaints from some in the business world that tighter controls could make it harder to recruit workers.
“We are not running the immigration policy on the exclusive interests of the UK business community, we are running it in Britain’s national interest,” he said.
“We will continue to listen to the voice of British business, but we are trying to strike the right balance on immigration policy while we listen to the evidence,” he added. (ANI)

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