English language testing for partners and marriage visas - Updated 18/11/10

The Government has announced changes to the requirements for people looking to come to the UK to join or marry their settled partner. As of 29 November 2010, spouses and partners will also need to demonstrate a good grasp of English to get a marriage visa.

These new rules apply to anyone looking to come to (or remain in) the UK who is the husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner, same-sex partner, fiance or prospective civil partner of a UK citizen, or a person settled in the UK.

This change will affect both applications to enter the UK and applications to remain, even if the application is made from the UK itself. Evidence that a test in speaking and listening English has been passed up to the A1 level will need to be provided from an approved test provider. This is the same level required for skilled workers coming to the UK on a Tier 2 visa under the current points based system. Applicants from English-speaking countries or applicants who hold a degree which was taught in English are exempt from this requirement.

Anyone wishing to apply under these conditions will need to apply for a two-year visa to come and live a the spouse or partner and at the end of this two year period they can then apply to the UKBA for permission to settle permanently. Anyone wishing to apply for permanent residence in this way will still need to provide evidence of their English-language skills and take the Life in the UK Test.

The new requirement applies to applications for entry clearance, leave to enter, leave to remain and further leave to remain. It does not apply to indefinite leave to remain or citizenship applications where the existing Knowledge of Life requirement continues to apply.

For more information please see the GOV.uk website, https://www.gov.uk/join-family-in-uk.

The UK Border Agency has now also released a video explaining the new English language requirements for partners of migrants. This short video provides some explanation of the purpose of the new requirements, as well as how to find out more about them. The video can be found on the Home Office’s YouTube channel, here.

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