Must spouses pass an English test before qualifying to get a spouse visa?

Question: I have heard that spouses of British citizens now need to pass an English test before they can qualify to get a spouse visa, is this true?

Answer: From 29th November 2010, any non-European migrant who wants to enter or remain in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or a person settled here will need to show that they can speak and understand English, which allows them to cope with everyday life in the UK, by taking an English language test which must meet or exceed level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). The following link provides details of English language test providers:
An applicant will need to meet the requirement if they are:
– a national of a country outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland; and
– in a relationship with a British citizen or a person settled here; and
– applying as that person’s husband, wife, civil partner, fiancé, proposed civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner.

The new English requirement does not apply to the following groups of applicants:
– spouse or partner of Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa applicants
– spouse or partner of a student
– visitors
– refugees or spouses of refugees applying on the basis of family reunion
– dependent children
– spouse or partner of an EEA national
– spouse or partner of a member of the armed forces applying under Part 7 of the Immigration Rules
– applicants for indefinite leave to remain

If an applicant has a bachelor’s degree qualification taught in English, then the applicant will have met the language requirement and will not need to undertake any further tests.

An applicant is deemed to meet the language requirement, and thus does not need to take the test, if they are a national of one of the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; the Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; New Zealand; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; United States of America.

By Raheela Hussain,
Principal Solicitor,
Greenfields Solicitors,

* Please note that the above article does not relate to nationals of the European Union.
Disclaimer: The above article is meant to be relied upon as an informative article and in no way constitutes legal advice. Information is offered for general information purposes only, based on the current law when the information was first published.

You should always seek advice from an appropriately qualified solicitor on any specific legal enquiry. For legal advice regarding your case, please contact Greenfields Solicitors for a Consultation with a Solicitor:
Tel. +44 (0)20 8884 1166