samedi 17 décembre 2011

Overseas spouses must speak English before arriving in UK, court rules

The high court has upheld a government rule requiring spouses to prove they can speak English before they can join their partners in Britain.

Mr Justice Beatson dismissed a judicial review challenge brought by three couples to the immigration rule, introduced last November, on the grounds that it was racist and would break up their families.

The couples included Rashida Chapti, a British citizen. She has been married for almost 40 years, has six children and divides her time between Leicester and India. Her husband, Vali, wants to join her permanently in Britain but he does not speak, read or write English.

The high court judge, sitting in Birmingham, said the requirement to have passed a pre-entry English language test did interfere with the couple's article 8 rights to a family life but this was justified in the interests of promoting integration and protecting public services.

Beatson also rejected the argument that the language tests were discriminatory because they required someone with a degree in English from India to sit the test but not Spanish-speakers from California.

The judge said that the decision to distinguish between nationals of countries considered to be "English-speaking" and those from elsewhere was rational.

The ruling is a major victory for the home secretary, Theresa May, in her efforts to persuade the courts to adopt a less rigid approach to article 8 human rights cases.

The immigration minister, Damian Green, said: "We believe it is entirely reasonable that someone intending to live in the UK should understand English, so that they can integrate and participate fully in our society. We are very pleased that the courts agree with us."


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