Rule requiring spouses to speak English to stay together in UK “racist”

The rule come under judicial scanner
28th July 2011: The rule requiring people to speak English before joining their spouse in the UK has come under the judicial scanner, with a lawyer appealing against the policy describing it as “racist”.
As per the Home Office requirement, anyone entering the UK to join their spouse must speak a minimum level of English. But, the lawyers told the High Court, sitting in Birmingham, that the tougher language tests discriminated against British-Indian families and their traditions.

In all, three couples are challenging the rules introduced in November 2010.

In the case of one of the couples, British citizen Rashida Chapti has been married for almost 40 years to her husband, Vali. They have six children and have been staying equally in Leicester and India. Chapti now wants Vali to move permanently to the UK, but he cannot speak, read or write English.

According to the immigration rules, Vali has to show a basic knowledge of English before being granted the permission to stay.

Appearing for the couple, Manjit Gill QC,  told the High Court that the rules were against their rights to a family life and amounted to racial discrimination.

Elaborating, Gill said the rules stopped a British citizen from living with her husband purely because he was a foreign citizen who did not speak English.

"’The rule is designed, putting it crudely, to keep out persons who tend to marry within their communities, who tend to have arranged marriages, who tend to be from the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East in particular," said Gill.

Quoting Gill, the BBC said the Home Secretary may have a legitimate power to block someone’s permanent settlement on the grounds that they were insufficiently integrated.

But the effect of the changes had been to prevent "mere residence" even though one half of the married couple was fully entitled to live in the country.

”That vice is compounded by the fact that the measure does this on grounds which are blatantly, admittedly, racially discriminatory.”

"Someone who is settled here, someone who is a British citizen, is ordinarily entitled to have their spouse living with them, providing it is a genuine marriage, providing there is no recourse to public funds.

"When one looks to see where are the sort of persons who are targeted by the rule, they are people of certain ethnic origins.

"There is a really powerful factor therefore operating here, that the discrimination is being drawn on grounds which are racially discriminatory in a pejorative sense,” Gill added.

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