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Language Requirements for the Partners of UK Residents

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 15 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
English Partner Language Visa Uk Spouse

In June 2010 - amongst its first policy statements - the UK’s coalition government announced that a new English language requirement was to be introduced for non-European visa applicants. This requirement will generally apply to non-Europeans who wish to enter the UK, or remain in the UK, as the partner of a UK resident or British citizen.

Why Partners of UK Residents Have to Speak English

The official rationale behind this requirement is to ensure better integration into British society by those who come to the UK to join their partner or spouse. Behind the new policy is the belief that a person cannot live a full life as a British resident if they cannot communicate in English. In the past, a lack of English language skills has led to some spouses becoming isolated and, potentially, vulnerable to exploitation. By having sufficient language skills to communicate with and understand others, foreign nationals who come to the UK to join their partners can have an autonomous existence from the outset rather than being overly reliant on their UK resident or British citizen partners.

In addition, this latest language requirement is amongst a number of new measures being implemented by the coalition government to control, and prevent abuse of, the UK’s immigration system. The Conservative Party - which constitutes the majority of the UK’s coalition government - made controlling immigration to the UK a central part of their election manifesto. It is anticipated that the numbers of non-EU immigrants coming to the UK will inevitably fall if further requirements and greater hurdles are introduced for visa applications of all types.

Some critics of the new requirement argue that it could breach an individual’s human rights and that it may be discriminatory. There are some who believe that the main impetus for implementing the new law was to control immigration rather than ensure better integration of foreign partners.

When Are the New Requirements Due to Come into Effect?

The new language skill requirements for the partners of UK residents are due to take effect on 29 November 2010. All applicants for a partner visa applying from that date onward will have to satisfy the new language requirements as part of the application process.

Under the new English language skill requirements non-European nationals applying to enter the UK to join their UK resident partners – or to remain in the UK as the partner of a UK resident - will have to prove that they have reached the required standard in the English language before doing so. This requirement applies to the spouse, civil partner or fiancé(e) of a UK resident as well as to unmarried partners. (The same language requirements will now also apply to the spouses or partners of British Citizens.)

The Standard of English Language Skills Required

Applicant partners must prove that they can both speak English and understand spoken English to a minimum prescribed level in order to qualify for a partner visa. As yet there is no requirement for these applicants to achieve a specified level in written English. The standard of English required is similar to that required by those applying as a skilled worker under the Points Based Immigration System.

Applicants who are nationals of a country which has English as the principal spoken language may be exempt from this requirement. Some critics believe that this makes the new rules discriminatory as they are applied differently to those from countries with or without English as an official language regardless of the individual applicant’s actual English language skills.

Proving that the Required Standard Has Been Reached

In August 2010 the British immigration authorities released a list of approved providers of English language courses for visa applicants. Applicants can take courses and tests through one of these approved providers to prove that they have the necessary English language skills to qualify for a partner visa. There are a wide range of tests which can be taken to satisfy the requirements. Approved test centres are located throughout the UK and all over the world. Proof that an approved test has been passed must be supplied together with the visa application.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi! I'm from Ecuador and my boyfriend is British. We want to apply for the Partner visa but We have a distance relationship for about 4 years. I came to visit him and he as well and we've evidence. Is it possible to apply for this visa in this situation? Thanks you.
caro - 15-Aug-17 @ 7:03 AM
My mum has had indefinite leave to remain in the UK since 1994. My dad is a British citizen and we want my mum to become one too. Will she still have to meet the English language requirements if she has been here long before they were introduced? Or will she only have to pass the life in the Uk test in order to recieve citizenship?
aisha123 - 25-Jun-17 @ 8:11 PM
Halley - Your Question:
Hello! I've been dating an UK resident for the past 2 years, he is from Italy originally but become a resident in 2007. I'm from the Dominican Republic and we want to be closer. Can I apply to the partner visa? Or what are my options for us to live together in the U.K.? Regards.

Our Response:
You/he would have to apply for the visa via the gov.uk link here. Your partner would have to fulfil the requirements laid out in the eligibilty section of the link.
AboutImmigration - 16-May-17 @ 1:42 PM
Hello! I've been dating an UK resident for the past 2 years, he is from Italy originally but become a resident in 2007. I'm from the Dominican Republic and we want to be closer. Can I apply to the partner visa? Or what are my options for us to live together in the U.K.? Regards.
Halley - 16-May-17 @ 3:37 AM
MISTER GEORGE - Your Question:
AN EU NATIONAL LIVING IN UK FOR 5 YEARS RECEIVING PENSION FROM ABROAD, DIVIDENDS FROM LIMITED UK COMPANY AND RENT FROM UK PROPERTY.-WHAT IS THE MINIMUM INCOME REQUIREMENT TO BE CONSIDERED AS QUALIFIED PERSON FOR A FAMILY WITH 2 CHILDREN?-DOES THE MINIMUM INCOME HAS TO BE FROM A SINGLE SOURCE OR IT CAN BE AS A SUM OF VARIOUS SOURCES ?-WHAT IS THE MINIMUM BANK SAVINGS ONE SHOULD HAVE TO BE CONSIDERED SELF SUFFICIENT?CAN I APPLY FOR REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE AND THEN FOR RESIDENCE CARD?THANK YOU

Our Response:
You must meet the financial requirement of: £18,600 per year if you’re applying only for yourself, £22,400 per year for you and one child and £2,400 per year for each additional child. The download via the link here will answer your other questions.
AboutImmigration - 23-Feb-17 @ 10:23 AM
AN EU NATIONAL LIVING IN UK FOR 5 YEARS RECEIVING PENSION FROM ABROAD, DIVIDENDS FROM LIMITED UK COMPANY AND RENT FROM UK PROPERTY. -WHAT IS THE MINIMUM INCOME REQUIREMENT TO BE CONSIDERED AS QUALIFIED PERSON FOR A FAMILY WITH 2 CHILDREN? -DOES THE MINIMUM INCOME HAS TO BE FROM A SINGLE SOURCE OR IT CAN BE AS A SUM OF VARIOUS SOURCES ? -WHAT IS THE MINIMUM BANK SAVINGS ONE SHOULD HAVE TO BE CONSIDERED SELF SUFFICIENT? CAN I APPLY FOR REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE AND THEN FOR RESIDENCE CARD? THANK YOU
MISTER GEORGE - 22-Feb-17 @ 1:28 PM
Spider- Your Question:
I am a British citizen and have a serbian national partner. We have been in relationship together as man & wife since 2008 and have a son born in 2010 who is a registered from birth British citizen also. My partner and I met in 2008 when we were both living in Spain and we have moved across Europe in this time, also going back to Serbia. I am now living back in England since 2013 with the children (2 from prev marriage). I do not work and have been on benefits for a long period due to 3 chronic illnesses and spine/bone problems. My partner is due to be released from a 19 month prison sentence in Switzerland in November and we want to be able to start again as a family, with him being able to work locally. Neither he nor I have any other family now except ourselves. Our son has suffered so much at this separation, how is it going to be possible for him to ever come to England to be together again as a family

Our Response:
If your partner has served a prison sentence it is highly unlikely he would be allowed into the UK to live.
AboutImmigration - 19-Sep-16 @ 2:30 PM
I am a British citizen and have a serbian national partner. We have been in relationship together as man & wife since 2008 and have a son born in 2010 who is a registered from birth British citizen also.My partner and I met in 2008 when we were both living in Spain and we have moved across Europe in this time, also going back to Serbia. I am now living back in England since 2013 with the children(2 from prev marriage). I do not work and have been on benefits for a long period due to 3 chronic illnesses and spine/bone problems. My partner is due to be released from a 19 month prison sentence in Switzerland in November and we want to be able to start again as a family, with him being able to work locally. Neither he nor I have any other family now except ourselves. Our son has suffered so much at this separation, how is it going to be possible for him to ever come to England to be together again as a family
Spider - 18-Sep-16 @ 11:20 PM
hind kolailat - Your Question:
I came to germany from one and a half year to marry my fiance, everytime they ask me for more papers and giving me hard time.So I want to go back to UK iam british citizen I want I stay their and work and send for my fiance to come and marry in london.But I dont have any clue how to do that, my fiance is a refugee from syria and they gave him the stay in germany for 3 years for the now being,please I need urgent advice.Thanks.

Our Response:
You would have to come to the UK first and be eligible to fulfil all the requirements in order for you to be able to apply, i.e; you have to have been living and working in the UK for six months and be earning a minimum of £18,600, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 12-Sep-16 @ 12:22 PM
I have this blue paper residence documentation and I would like to know if it is the same as permanent resident card or totally different? Also I just noticed there is no expiry date in it onlydate of issue, is this "leaflet can expire?" Many thanks, Mariann
Mariann - 11-Sep-16 @ 8:27 PM
I came to germany from one and a half year to marry my fiance, everytime they ask me for more papers and giving me hard time.So i want to go back to UK iam british citizen i want i stay their and work and send for my fiance to come and marry in london.But i dont have any clue how to do that, my fiance is a refugee from syria and they gave him the stay in germany for 3 years for the now being,please i need urgent advice.Thanks.
hind kolailat - 11-Sep-16 @ 6:11 PM
Ahmed - Your Question:
I live in the UK and I am married to non-EU citizen but lives in the Netherla ds. She wants to come and live with me in the UK. She wants to apply for Partner Visa. I am full time university student, Do I need to come with £18,600 income to bring her here in the UK?

Our Response:
I'm afraid you do, there are no exceptions on this, unless you are on a Tier 4 student visa, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 29-Jun-16 @ 2:36 PM
I live in the UK and I am married to non-EU citizen but lives in the Netherla ds. She wants to come and live with me in the UK. She wants to apply for Partner Visa. I am full time university student, Do I need to come with £18,600 income to bring her here in the UK?
Ahmed - 28-Jun-16 @ 11:10 PM
Hello, I am an Italian lady married to a British citizen. I have been living in the UK for five years and working ( have my own UK registered company) Do I need a residency card ? Do I qualify for British nationality? Do I need to give evidence of being in the country for three or five years? What documents do I need to produce? It is all so confusing. Could you kindly clarify? Thanks in advance Gina
Gina - 25-Jun-16 @ 6:48 AM
Hi I have ilr ..on the online application of my husband there is a question about visa expiry date. Should I include the ILR Card expiry date or give 1 Jan 2050?
Dter - 17-Feb-16 @ 10:02 PM
Hi there I am a 24 years old guy am getting maried to a british girl and i stay in india. Please advice me whats is the procedure from my side before moving to uk. What are financial and official requirements i have to go through. Thanks
mac - 27-Dec-15 @ 3:25 PM
@Eddie - if you have a family visa that should be fine and you should be fine to work, applicants for a UK family visa can bring spouses, partners and dependent children with them to the UK. You will be entitled to the same rights as the main applicant in terms of work etc.
DD - 5-Mar-15 @ 9:57 AM
Could you please advise, my wife is British citizen and I have to kids. we got married in uk on march 2012 and we are living in Dubai. and we decide tomove to uk. what type of visa I apply to enter uk ?and I am able to work before I can apply for settle down in uk. I have already family visit visa. Many Thanks in advance . Regards Eddie
Eddie - 5-Mar-15 @ 8:56 AM
Can you please advise me regarding my Chinese wife, she was granted a Marriage visa in September 2012 and has been living here with me since then, apart from a family visit to China earlier this year for a period of 10 weeks because her daughter had a new baby, I later joined her in China for a 3 week stay to see my new granddaughter,but we live together as man and wife throughout this time. My wife's visa expires next June 2015, can you advise me what is the next step ? am I right in thinking she can apply for ILR ? and when should we instigate this application ? Many thanks in advance. RegardsColin.
Colin - 11-Nov-14 @ 8:25 PM
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