Marriage Visas And English Language Competence


Family, Policy

Paragraph 281 of the
Immigration Rules sets out the requirements which have to be met for a foreign
spouse or civil partner (other than one from inside the European Economic
Area) of a British citizen or person settled in the United Kingdom to be granted
entry clearance enabling him or her to enter the United Kingdom. In November
2010 paragraph 281 was amended to require an applicant to produce a test
certificate of knowledge of the English language to a prescribed standard before entering the United Kingdom and as a
condition of being granted leave to enter.

The previous requirement had been that persons granted leave should
demonstrate their knowledge of the language within two years of entering the
United Kingdom.  The amended paragraph
281 contains an elaborate and detailed definition of the required test
certificate and of certain exemptions.
The main exemption is in favour of nationals of majority English
speaking Commonwealth countries and the USA.
Other applicants must have an English language test certificate at the
required level from an approved provider or have a degree level qualification
which was taught or researched in English. 
Other exemptions are in favour of applicants (1) aged 65 or over (2)
those with a physical or mental condition which would prevent them from meeting
the requirement and (3) those who can successfully plead “exceptional
compassionate circumstances”, an expression which includes nationals of
countries which do not have approved test centres accepted by the United Kingdom
Border Agency as being competent to carry out the required tests.

Read the Full Briefing Paper No 8.72

27th June 2013

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