Spouses’ English tests win judge’s approval

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A High Court judge has dismissed a legal challenge to a new immigration rule requiring people to be able to speak English before coming to the UK to live with their spouses.

Mr Justice Beatson said the new “pre-entry” English language test announced by Home Secretary Theresa May in June 2010 did not interfere with the human rights of three couples who brought the challenge.

In his judgment, given at the High Court in Birmingham, Mr Justice Beatson said the new requirement was not a disproportionate interference with family life.

The claimants’ lawyers launched the judicial review in the High Court, arguing that the rule contravened the right to a family life and the right to marry under the European Convention on Human Rights.

UK citizen Rashida Chapti, 54, and her 57-year-old husband Vali Chapti were one of three named claimants in the case.

The couple have been married for 37 years and have six children together but Mr Chapti, an Indian national who does not speak, read or write English, cannot move to the UK under the new immigration rule. The challenge to the rule also claimed the language requirement was unlawful and constituted discrimination on the grounds of race and nationality.

A tribunal ruled that Mr Chapti should not be given a spouse visa because it had not been established that his wife could maintain him from her income.

The first-tier tribunal also rejected Mr Chapti due to his age, lack of skill and English language ability, as well as his poor employment prospects.