The government recently announced a change to the language rules for migrants. The change introduces a higher language requirement for partners and parents of a non-EEA national applying for further leave to remain on the five-year family route to settlement. In addition, the new rule requires that the applicant demonstrates English language speaking and listening skills at the A2 level of the Common European Framework of References for Languages after 2.5 years in the UK. The rule will apply from 1st May 2017.
The change is yet another in a series of rule changes that have come about in the last few years, gradually tightening the language requirements for migrants in the UK.
As it currently stands, those applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as a partner of a British citizen or a person settled in the UK are required to demonstrate English language skills at the most basic level, A1.
From 1st May 2017 all applicants for settlement in the UK will be required to pass the English speaking and listening test at the more demanding B1 level at the end of their five-year probationary period. Furthermore, they will have to demonstrate the intermediate A2 level of skill at the halfway point of the probationary period, which intends to support progression towards the B1 level required at the settlement stage.
When the A1 entry requirement was introduced in November 2010 the number of refused applications surged to 781 in 2011 compared to only 15 the year before. A similar increase may be expected after 1st May 2017 when applicants will be asked to prove their knowledge at the A2 level, although existence of certain exemptions should provide relief in some cases.