New UK rules discriminatory for immigrants
London, June 10: Immigration campaigners have expressed fears that the new English language tests would disproportionately target spouses and partners, hailing from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, but a key cabinet minister says the immigrants have everything to gain from the new rules.
The Conservative co-chair and Lib-Lab coalition government cabinet member Sayeeda Warsi hailed the new English test rules compulsory for immigrants from outside the European Union who marry British citizens and move to the UK.
Warsi welcomed the new, fast-tracked package and said it would go a long way in strengthening the communities and dismissed fears expressed by some groups that these rules may disproportionately target some ethnic communities and may prove to be too harsh.
The applicants will have to show their grasp of English, at least at the level of five to seven-year-old.
“It’s all a gain-gain situation as the very basic level English language test will go on to benefit and empower those who want to come and live in the UK. It’s all for their benefit and will help them in multiple ways to obtain jobs, communicate better, be better parents and useful members of the society,” Warsi said.
According to the government statistics, last year, some 38,000 visas for spouses were granted and a further 21,000 people were granted indefinite leave to remain. The new measures are going to have a particular impact on South Asians communities — Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi — who make up a large proportion of these figures. British Asians continue to retain strong blood and cultural relations with their countries of origin.
The campaigners have expressed their opposition to the new measures. Hina Majid of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said she supported helping immigrants to learn English, but the plans were discriminatory. “It’s unnecessary, it’s costly and it will tear migrant families apart.”
Don Flynn, from the Migrants’ Rights Network, said the benefits of learning English were obvious but couples should not be penalised for wanting to be together. Isabella Sankey, of Liberty, labelled the news ‘disgraceful’ and said some people may be unfairly penalised.
In a statement the Liberty said: “While a good command of English is clearly beneficial for someone settling in the UK with their partner or spouse, making this a prerequisite to entering the country is disgraceful.”
The rules will apply to spouses, fiancees and unmarried couples who already live in Britain as well as new applicants. UK Home Secretary Theresa May said being able to speak English was a pre-requisite for anyone wanting to settle in Britain.
“The new English requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services,” she said in a statement.
May said the measures were a first step in tightening up English language requirements across the visa system.
Warsi said the level of English test was seat at a basic and easy level and fears that it will keep the family members apart were unfounded because the news rules are aimed helping those men and women, who plan to make Britain their home and its only right that learned the language and make their life easier.
There will be no strain on relationships that sets in because of the lack of communication. It will enable the new arrivals at a practical level to go to doctor on their own, communicate to teachers and community workers and be able to understand what their children are talking about.