UK Court rules that immigrant spouses must speak English

ISSUEimmigrantA case was brought to court by two female British citizens, Saiqa Bibi and Saffana Ali, whose husbands from Yemen and Pakistan respectively, want to move to the UK to be with their families.

Under the UK’s spouse visa rules the men must learn a basic level of English and pass a test at an approved centre before being allowed to enter the country. The court was told that this meant their right to a private and family life under the European Convention Human rights’ Articla 8, was being breached. An appeal was filed.

A Court’s panel of five judges unanimously dismissed the appeal, and suggested exemptions may be made in cases where it was impractical to apply the rule.

The Supreme Court judgement follows earlier rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal that there was no disproportionate interference with the family life, and where an applicant for a spouse visa does not satisfy the pre-entry language requirement, the entry clearance officer will automatically consider the issue of whether there may be exceptional circumstances. If an application was refused, the applicant could appeal that refusal, but the pre-entry language requirement does not violate Article 8, and stands valid.