Britain introduces language test for immigrant spouses
Britain's new government is to introduce an obligatory English language test for all non-EU immigrants seeking to join their spouse or marry here, it announced Wednesday.
All migrants from outside the European Union will have to demonstrate "a basic command of English that allows them to cope with everyday life before they are granted a visa," said the Home Office.
New Prime Minister David Cameron made tightening up Britain's immigration rules a key campaign pledge ahead of the May 6 elections, after which his Conservative Party forged a coalition with the centrist Liberal Democrats.
The new requirement will apply to spouses, civil partnerships, unmarried couples, same sex partners and fiances, and will be compulsory for people applying from within Britain, as well as visa applicants from abroad.
"I believe being able to speak English should be a pre-requisite for anyone who wants to settle here," said Home Secretary Theresa May, announcing the new measures.
"The new English requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services.
"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."
And there are likely more measures to come, she said.
"This is only the first step. We are currently reviewing English language requirements across the visa system with a view to tightening the rules further in the future.
"Today's announcement is one of a wide range of measures the new government is taking to ensure that immigration is properly controlled for the benefit of the UK, alongside a limit on work visas and an effective system for regulating the students who come here."
© 2010 AFP