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English Language Requirements for Non-EEA National Partners & Parents
The nature and effect of more stringent language requirements
23rd June 2017
Since 29th November 2010, the UK Government has progressively introduced an English Language requirement within the Immigration Rules, to be met by non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) national partners and parents of persons who are British nationals, settled in the United Kingdom, granted refugee status, granted humanitarian protection, or members of Her Majesty’s Forces under Appendix Armed Forces.
The Government, on the supposed premise that the ability to speak and understand English is fundamental to both successful integration into and participation within British society, has made progressive additions and amendments to the English language requirements as set out in the Immigration Rules, to the detriment of many applicants.
Over the years the following progressive additions and amendments have been made:
(i) On 29th November 2010 introduction of Level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in speaking and listening, to be met by non-EEA national partners of persons who are British nationals or present and settled in the United Kingdom
(ii) On 6th April 2011 introduction of Level A1 of the CEFR in speaking and listening to be met by non-EEA national partners of persons who have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection
(iii) On 9th July 2012 introduction of Level A1 of the CEFR in speaking and listening to be met by non-EEA national parents of children who are British nationals or who are present and settled in the United Kingdom
(iv) On 1st December 2013 introduction of Level A1 of the CEFR in speaking and listening to be met by non-EEA national partners of members of Her Majesty’s Forces under Appendix Armed Forces
(v) On 28th October 2013 introduction of Level B1 of the CEFR in speaking and listening and Life in the UK Test to be met by non-EEA national partners or parents of persons who are British nationals, settled in the United Kingdom, granted refugee status, granted humanitarian protection or members of Her Majesty’s Forces under Appendix Armed Forces applying for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom
(vi) On 1st May 2017 increase from Level A1 of the CEFR to Level A2 of the CEFR in speaking and listening to be met by non-EEA national partners/parents of persons who are British nationals, present and settled in the United Kingdom, granted refugee status or granted humanitarian protection applying for leave to remain in the United Kingdom
Proving English Language
Essentially there are four ways for a non-EEA national partner or parent to meet the English language requirement. Either they:
(1) are a national of a majority speaking English country which at present includes Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America
(2) pass an approved English language test in speaking and listening to the required Level A1, A2 or B1 (dependent on the application) of the CEFR which at present (since 6th April 2015) for out-of-country applications is IELTS Life Skills provided by IELTS SELT Consortium and for in-country applications is IELTS Life Skills provided by IELTS SELT Consortium, Graded Examinations in Spoken English provided by Trinity College London, and Integrated Skills in English provided by Trinity College London. Consequently, the previously approved English language tests such as Cambridge English, ESOL, City & Guilds and Pearson are no longer acceptable
(3) has an academic qualification, which is either a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD, either awarded by an educational establishment in the United Kingdom or if awarded by an educational establishment outside of the United Kingdom is confirmed by the United Kingdom National Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC):
(a) to meet or exceed the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD; and
(b) that the Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD was taught or researched in English to the required Level A1, A2 or B1 (dependent on the application) of the CEFR
(4) is aged 65 or over, or alternatively, has a disability (physical or mental), or there are exceptional circumstances which prevent them from meeting the English language requirement such as, for example:
(a) international or internal armed conflict or humanitarian disaster in their country of permanent residence;
(b) they have been hospitalised for several months;
(c) they are a full-time carer of a disabled child applying to travel to the United Kingdom; or
(d) there is no provision in their country of permanent residence to sit the English language test and it is not practicable or reasonable for them to travel to another country to take the test.
Since the introduction of the English language requirement on 29th November 2010 and the mandatory necessity to meet Level A1 of the CEFR, there have been between 315 and 781 refusals of applications by the Home Office during the period 2011 and 2015 on this ground alone (Home Office: A2 English language requirement for the family route – November 2016). Further, it is estimated by the Home Office that with the introduction of the mandatory necessity to meet Level A2 of the CEFR after 1st May 2017, some further 245 applications are likely to be refused on this basis alone, which would equate to around 7 per cent of the total number of applications for leave to remain in the United Kingdom by non-EEA national partners and parents.
Consequently, those who do not meet the English language requirement of Level A1 of the CEFR in entry clearance applications, are unlikely to be granted entry clearance to the United Kingdom. And those who do not meet the English language requirement of Level A2 of the CEFR in extension applications, are unlikely to be granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom and as a result would be expected to leave.
This document was written by Aston Brooke Solicitors’ Immigration Department. For specific legal advice on your case please contact us on +44 (0)203 475 4321 and a member of our team will be able to assist you.
Disclaimer: this article is for general information purposes only. It does not present a detailed statement of the Law and does not constitute as legal advice. This is a summary only, and legal advice should always be sought on an individual case basis.