The unfairness of English tests for overseas spouses

25 October 2010
Press Office

In June of this year, it was announced that spouses and partners of British citizens from overseas will have to take an English language test before joining their partner in the UK.

The measure is intended to prevent sham marriages and ‘promote integration’ but the reality is that these amendments will lead to the separation of genuine families causing untold hardship.  What happens to the happily married British citizen with a non-English speaking spouse who returns from abroad to care for elderly parents?

In addition, the plans are inconsistent – under EU right to free movement rules,  the overseas partners of EEA citizens settled in the UK won’t have to sit the test, whereas spouses and partners of British citizens in the same situation will   More importantly, the changes may well put the Government in breach of the Human Rights Act and the Equalities Act 2010.

Unless disapproved by a resolution in either House of Parliament the new requirements will come into force on the 29 November.  Today, Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Avebury laid a Motion in the House of Lords calling for the tests to be scrapped.  We hope the Upper Chamber takes this opportunity to dismiss this discriminatory policy – splitting up families is not a legitimate method of immigration control.