KINGDOM – ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEST FOR PARTNERS
The UK government have announced English language tests for partners / spouses will be introduced from 29 November 2010.
The introduction of such a test was announced following the new government's election to office.
From this date, any 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, by taking an English language test. The test will be with one of the approved test providers - such as IELTS, TOEFL etc....
The new rules will apply to anyone applying as the husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner, same-sex partner, fiance(e) or proposed civil partner of a British citizen or a person settled in this country. They will be compulsory for people applying from within the UK as well as visa applicants from overseas.
Some applicants will be exempt - such as those from "majority English language countries" - this will include those countries designated as such for the Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa categories.
Applicants should be aware of the introduction of the test if looking to apply after 29th November.
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KINGDOM – FUTURE IMMIGRATION POLICY
The UK Immigration Minister Damian Green has made a major policy speech on immigration. The speech seems to be aimed at an overall tightening of the immigration system with particular emphasis on student numbers.
The Minister queries the legacy of the previous government's immigration policy and asks strong questions on students remaining in the UK for lengthy periods, the effectiveness of skilled immigration and the proposals for an immigration cap.
Obviously the current government are only at the start of their 5 year term so policy announcements such as this are common at this time. We will closely monitor and report on immigration changes as they are unveiled.
KINGDOM – CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL TO MARRY
The government have announced their intention to abolish the "Certificate of Approval to Marry" scheme.
This is the process where non UK / EU citizens need to apply for permission to marry in the UK. The Certificate of Approval scheme has been controversial since its introduction a few years back and has been subjected to much scrutiny by the courts.
The government are stating that the;
"scheme is incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and changes made following rulings from the courts have weakened the scheme, and it is no longer an effective method of preventing sham marriage".
Although the scheme is still in operation, it will be abolished in 2011, depending on how quickly it can be removed through Parliament.
This is a positive development in removing a simplistic and discriminatory piece of legislation which caused more problems than it solved.
KINGDOM – FEES TO INCREASE
As part of the overall review of government expenditure, it has now been announced that visa fees will be increased again in October.
Normally visa fees are only increased on an annual basis, usually in April. However, new fees will be announced and implemented in October 2010, which will probably be in addition to another increase in April 2011.
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