More language requirement anguish

tests are a way of keeping people out

At JCWI we have been contacted by another UK citizen denied the right to a family life by the pre-entry language requirement for spouses. This story is yet more evidence that the requirement is not about integration, social cohesion or any other laudable claim of the Home Office. The pre-entry requirement is about getting numbers of migrants down, pure and simple. When Damian Green was asked on Newsnight about curtailing family immigration, the first thing that popped into his head was the language requirement (skip to 12.10 for the part about language tests).

Here’s Emma’s story in her own words:

My husband Fahad is from Yemen, he’s 35 years old. Fahad is a teacher and headmaster. I’m originally from California USA, but I have dual nationality, my father is British and I’m a British citizen, I carry two passports. I live in London.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the Middle East, studying Arabic, I spent almost a year in Amman at the University of Jordan  and in Yemen. I met Fahad when I was in Yemen studying, we met via my language professor at the YIAL language institute.

Egyptian wedding
Fahad and I got married whilst on holiday in Cairo, Egypt in September last year. I got unpaid leave from my employer and travelled back to Yemen from November until January to help my husband apply for his visa to the UK and to have a 2nd wedding party/ceremony with his family. We are applying for a fiance visa as we are not sure if our marriage certificate from Egypt is recognised in the UK, this is what our lawyer has advised.
Unfortunately, the British Embassy in Sana’a closed in October 2010, due to the security situation and recommended that we launch our visa application from another country. We decided to launch our application from Jordan as I know the place very well and have friends there who can help Fahad. He has been living & and studying in Jordan since March, he’s currently unemployed, my family and I have been supporting him. The situation in Yemen got really ugly with regard to the anti-government protests so it was another reason to study English in another country where there is relative stability and calm.
Testing times
I took more unpaid leave from work and travelled to Jordan, to help Fahad prepare for his English exam at the British Council in Amman. He took the exams (KET A1 Cambridge exam) in late July. We don’t have high hopes that he’ll pass this time around as Fahad has studied very little English in Yemen, it will be a miracle if he passes. The British Council will let us know the results in early September (yet another long wait). If he doesn’t pass then he’ll have to wait for the next exam which will be offered in either November or December 2011, this will give him more time to study and prepare for this difficult exam, but this will mean more waiting, more fees for the exam/English classes as well as living expenses.
We have not yet launched our application via our lawyer as he has not passed the English exam, she is not able to help us until he passes. As you can imagine this is a huge expense. Having to pay for living expenses in Amman and London, exam fees, course fees, plane tickets, future lawyer fees as well as the future fee for the visa. This is not fair, it’s a horrible burden to bear and no human should be put under such stress to be with their partner.
Yearn to learn
Believe me, if I had work in Jordan then I’d be living there with him now, but there’s no work out there in my field, I must stay in the UK and keep my job in London until Fahad can finally join me. He really wants to learn English, but can’t he do it once he’s here where he’ll be stress free and with his wife?
This is the reality of the language requirement, Emma and Fahad’s case is far from unique. JCWI will continue to campaign for an end to this rule which, like in the case of Mohammed and his wife and daughter, splits families up. We have also formally intervened in the Chapti test case which was recently heard in the High Court and await judgment.
The names in this article have been changed.

About jcwi

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is a key campaigning voice in the field of immigration, asylum and nationality law and policy. It is completely independent from government funding, remaining entirely free from government influence. View all posts by jcwi

3 responses to “More language requirement anguish

  • geoffsky

    My heart truly goes out to both of them.

  • Faz

    I’m going through the same problem but this was due to my wife’s age being under 21. My wife and I have been living apart for nearly three years because of this problem caused by the UK Home office. I have been visiting Pakistan twice a year to see my wife and have been supporting her financially while she’s living there. And I cannot live in Karachi due to lack of jobs there, so I have to stay in London to earn and support my wife. I’ve tried twice to call my wife via visit visa which was denied by the UK Embassy. However I am lucky as my wife is educated and is very fluent in English, which is a plus point for the spouse visa application. I’m sure many more people are experience these sort of problems in some ways due to the draconian British law. For the above couple’s case, and others who are facing problems, I wish you all the best, and God willing, all these problems will come to an end.

  • Chapti & Ors v SSHD – pre-entry language test judgment « Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

    […] support the learning of English language, but oppose the use of immigration law and pre-entry tests here, here and here.  You can also read our more detailed paper we co-authored with ILPA and […]

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