Migration Pulse

Marrying someone from abroad – how easy will it be for them to take the new English test?

Following the announcement by the Home Secretary to make prospective spouses coming to the UK take an English test before they can qualify for a visa, our guest blogger John Perry explores the practical side of things. Now that the UKBA has announced how the tests will be done, John takes a look at the hurdles in the way of migrants wanting to join their spouse in the UK.
August 26, 2010
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John Perry

John Perry researches and writes on housing, migration and refugee issues for the Chartered Institute of Housing and HACT. John was Director of Policy at the CIH for twelve years until 2003, before moving to Nicaragua, where he co-ordinates projects with low income families, including a housing project.

There was a lively debate in the MRN blog when Home Secretary Theresa May announced she was going to make prospective spouses coming to the UK take a test of English before they can qualify for a visa. I joined in the debate myself. As well as my professional interest in migration, I’ve got a personal one – my wife is from Nicaragua, and originally needed a visa to come to the UK.

My wife is now fluent in English and has dual citizenship, but she would have found it extremely difficult if she had been required to take the test before she left Nicaragua, back in 1994. Then and now, the quality of English courses in her home town is not high, and they are usually taught by people with Miami accents. The courses, by local standards, are also far from cheap.

But UKBA has now announced how the tests will be done. Does the announcement offer any reassurance? I thought I’d test the process out myself, assuming I was back in the position I was in sixteen years ago. First, I checked out the list of providers. I have to say they look like a pretty mixed bunch. Some of their introductory material for candidates is not easy to understand. Here’s a sentence from one guide to the courses available:

‘The General Training Component stressed on the basic essential English language skills in a wide range of framework of the social and educational environment’. 

What on earth does that mean? Also, it’s far from clear from the list who provides services in particular countries.

Anyway, not to be deterred, I pressed on. I sent emails to ten of the test providers, including ones that appeared likely to offer the tests in Nicaragua or somewhere nearby. I got replies from five of them, of which two were positive. This is where things became more complicated. 

One reply was from Cambridge University’s ESOL centre. They have a widespread network of test centres, but they don’t have one in Nicaragua.  The nearest is in neighbouring Costa Rica. But apart from the cost of a flight or bus and a hotel, Nicaraguans need a visa to visit Costa Rica. Added in with the cost of the test, and assuming a visa was obtained, I guess taking the exam there would cost my hypothetical spouse at least £500 – to be repeated, of course, if she failed first time. Has UKBA checked to see if the test is available without crossing borders to do so?

Then there is the issue of the level required. UKBA asks spouses to pass the most basic test, known as level A1. Cambridge doesn’t offer this level of test in Costa Rica, the nearest is A2, which involves reading and writing as well as speaking. So the hurdle is set higher than it needs to be. 

But could she take the correct test in Nicaragua? The only provider to have a test centre there appears to be Pearson Education. They offer the test at one of the main universities. But the test level is much higher – B1 – the level needed by students wanting to take academic courses in England. I tried the test myself. It is a three-hour, computer-based test, and even the instructions are quite sophisticated. In the speaking test, you have to repeat into the computer rather complicated passages. Here’s one:

‘The development of easy-to-use statistical software has changed the way statistics is being taught and learned. Students can make transformations of variables, create graphs of distributions of variables, and select among statistical analyses all at the click of a button.  However, even with these advancements, students sometimes still find statistics to be an arduous task.’

Phew, quite a tongue-twister to read in the allotted 40 seconds, even for a native English speaker. I gave up and concluded that, sadly, my prospective wife would not have got her visa.

I tried to imagine what my situation would be if my hypothetical spouse had been, say, in her fifties, and not used to travelling abroad, taking tests, using computers and visiting universities (a pretty common position for older men and women in Nicaragua). How would she have coped with all this? Would, indeed, the marriage have taken place at all!

It is difficult not to conclude that the Home Secretary sees no reason why Brits should marry people from outside Europe or from non-English speaking countries. After all, the hurdles are already formidable, even without the test.  The cost of visas is now astronomic; they require internet access and need to entrust their passports and birth certificates to couriers, and there is no guarantee that (having irretrievably made your payment of £644) your application will be approved. Then there is the cost of air fares and – once in the UK – the need to start learning English so as to take and pass the Life in the UK test after two years, to get indefinite leave to remain.

I calculate that – were I to be in the position I was in sixteen years ago - I’d now need over £2,000 and a very highly committed potential partner, just for her to be able to get the documents to board the plane and get through border controls at Heathrow. How does this square with equality legislation, which is supposed to mean that government does not discriminate against people because of (for example) their age or disability? Were the proposals subjected to an equality impact assessment? – it seems highly unlikely and if so it hasn’t been published, as is required. Finally, how does all this square with the human right to family life? I wonder if there is someone with a more direct interest than mine, who will test the requirements in the courts?


in my view point the proposal look like the home office does not want any foreignier partner to come to the uk. even if this mesure is just to discourage anyone to get marry outside because so many have abused the system in the past , te true is that somewhere there is so many inoncent people who's trying to do things in very rihgt way.

My daughter is married to an Algerian national. She is 19 so therefore he cannot yet come to the country as she is under the new 21 year old age limit so that was the first wall the british government put in front of them. The fact that i have MS and my daughter cares for me meant that she was unable to go live there with him until she reaches the legal age. Now they have put yet another obstacle in their path!! Although he is very proficient in his English speaking as stated its finding the correct course in his country. And also as he has been refused 7 visit visas so far and she has to visit him regularly to ensure the subsistance of the marriage its also a cost issue. Theres course fees visa fees plane tickets its getting ridiculous. To me our country is being racist to its own people. If she was a foreign national on a student visa or work visa she would have none of these problems because these new rules only relate to British citizens and their spouses!!

Hi Michelle,

there is a Facebook group which organised a petition around the issue of language tests. The page is called "I LOVE MY 'FOREIGN' SPOUSE: defend the rights of cross-border couples"


Have a look.

I would like to see the government put more implications on people coming from abroad, I myself born British Muslim in my 30's has worked and paid my taxes and it just baffles me how I hear from certain tunisian people bragging about how easy it is to come into this country and get married to a british citizen for the wrong reasons as a scam and then get the right and live here and claim benefits.

I assure you you are very misinformed any person coming to this country comes with no recourse to public funds for 2 years married or not and they have to pay in to take out so before you start making blanket statements about foreign nationals i suggest you do your homework!!

John, your article is absolutely right, the UKBA have made it so difficult. My husband is from Tunisia and we have been refused our visa,we are currently waiting to apply for another in January as I was refused due to me using my overdraft, which actually by the time you have paid for everything, you dont have any money. Ive also had to visit my husband which again costs money, Ive not employed a solicitor to help which is more cost so no wonder I have to use my overdraft. My husband is in the process of doing the English test which there only seems to be one place to do this which is the British Council in Tunis who charge 200 td. The test is not easy infact the only test they have available is the IELTS test which is over and above the requirement but he has had to do this. I actually did a sample test similar to the one you mentioned John, and I struggled to remember as your memory is important rather than your knowledge of the language, its absolutely ridiculous, so those people who say it is difficult its not, let me tell you, I have been married now for 1 year and I cant be with my husband, is that right I have to wait for the UKBA to tell me that I can be with my husband, they are causing alot of heartache for a lot of people and its just not right.

sorry I meant to say those people who think its easy its not, its extremely hard and heartbreaking.

On a related note, Damian Green tells Newsnight that new language tests will reduce migration. Up until now the Home Office has been desperate to assure everyone that the English language requirements for spouses and partners coming into effect at the end of this month are about integration, and not immigration control. But I guess that has changed now.


Anyone who thinks it is easy for a Tunisian national to gain entry clearance in the UK is sadly misinformed. I have been married to my Tunisian husband since July and we are still waiting for news on our settlement visa. I am a full time lecturer and manager at an outstanding college in the UK, have no financial problems what so ever and have a husbnad who is fluent in 5 languages including English. I own my own property, have no children from previous relationships and have never been married before. We submitted our second visa application on 8th October (our first one for a 6 month tourist visa was declined immediately with basically no consideration of ours or my circumstances), we were told we would have to wait 3 months for a reply. On the 26th of October we recievced a phone call from the British embassy in Tunis to come and collect our visa. After a long drive and 3 hour wait we were told they had made a mistake and they had not even looked at our application. They then promised us we would be a priority and they would look at it within a week.......here we are on November 7th still no phone call or decision. When my husband tried to make a complaint about what had happend to us (as I was in Tunisia at the time) the email was sent back and they were not interested. I have tried to complain to UK border....not interested as it is in Tunisia. What do people like ourselves do? I am a tax paying citizen who has worked since i was 16 years old, funded myself through university 3 times and now teaches the next generation. Everyday I put back into my local community....yet I am not allowed the human right of living with my husband because he is from the wrong continent?I am of course one of many people in my situation. The laws which the Government are putting in place are simply racist. I as a tax payer do not want to support people financially who cannot put back into the community and fully understand the UK recession....however, we arent asking for that. Like many others we simply want to live together and have a normal married life. I do not want to be pushed out of my country because I cannot live with the person I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with.

Also in relations to other comments...the cost is absoloutely disgusting-what on earth justifies £750 for an application which is quite frankly not even administered correctly!If they can make mistakes like they have made with our application who is to say that they actually will look at the 300 plus documents myself and my husband have submitted?

I suppose the only saving grace in this situation is that at least my occupation gives me a salary and holidays which enable me to maintain our relationship and have face to face contact....this is not the case for so many other genuine couples like ourselves who are in this dreadful situation and of whom are financially bankrupting themselves to actually have a life together!

And yes i fully accept that i married my husband knowing it would not be easy and that he lived in a different country......however, unfortunately love sees no borders and stipulations like the English language tests are just further racist buracratic hoops for people like my husband to have to jump through in order to live with the women they love.

With reference to what Anon said (sep 26th) i really suggest you do your homework ...what u commented was an absolute joke!! I myslef am British married to a Tunisian..I have always worked although i suffer with M.E. I have always paid tax nat ins etc and yet following an operation i had in September have been very ill so have been off work for 9 weeks now and only get SSP (statury sick pay) My husband has been frantically looking for work every day since he came over end of august. NO he is not entitled to ANY help/benefit to support me during this period of being off work. he had a much better life in Tunisia having had his own company etc and if he didnt love me so much would have gone back immediately after he arrived here. People are so full of prejudice and you being a Muslim im very shocked with your lack of knowledge.
It is very far from "easy" for Tunisians to come to UK. Our 1st appointment at the embassy in tunis took us 7 hours to get there only to be told they were CLOSED due to a shortage of staff. T|hey had my husbands email ad -phone no but didnt even bother to contact him to let him know. I was very ill at the time and after a LOT of sorting out he got another appointment. He was lied to by the embassy to get more money from him in addition to the visa fee.(I didnt find this out until i returned to the uk) We have been through hell and high water to get where we are now. We were so badly messed about i had to involve my MP who was a fantastic help...same old story money and power speaks volumes. So may i suggest you do just a little research before listening to what others have to say and then decide for yourself. Also what gives people the right to say "no1 needs to marry people from abroad" In a "free society" we should be able to choose who we want to marry regardless where they are from. Since he has been here he has faced such racism. It saddens me to see the way people are. Its disgusting the way people like my husband are treated especially as he is so desperate to work. What makes me sick are the 1s for eg who enter ILLEGALLY to abuse the system and have absolutely no intention of seeking work. Those are the people who get looked after by the state! It is beaurocratic crap and needs changing. It seems the people who dont want to work get hand outs left right and centre-the honest genuine hardworking people are the 1s who suffer for this!!!

@anonymous (15 November)

Thank you for sharing your story. Some of the things you point to are absolutely alarming and the racism you describe is appalling.

But dare I say that perhaps your anger is a bit misplaced in the final paragraph with the people who enter illegaly. I would say that working in the sector for quite a while the only one who is under the impression that benefits cheats are all around us (migrants or non-migrants) is the tabloids, who push the agenda because it sells. Not to say that some people are dishonest and make false claims.

But there is no data suggesting that undocumented migrants are more likely to be involved in benefit fraud. By definition, since they don't have all the right paperwork they are much less likely to access social assistance at all, and as you say, the restrictions on migrants accessing benefits are enormous (anyone who went through the process will tell you that UK really, really isn't a "soft-touch"). 

I wish you all the best in the future. Out of curiousity, who was the MP who helped you with your case?

UKBA has published an internal guidance on the English Language Requirement


As mentioned i am very well aware that the UK is certainly not a soft touch as my husband and myself went through indescribeable hell..As a British citizen i was shocked beyond belief as to what happened.With regards to which particular MP sorry but i dont like naming names..I was refering to the people who are always after an "easy ride" and as we both know there are plenty of those about both abroad and also in UK. These are the 1s who get my back up as these are the kind of people who spoil things and make it so hard for the honest genuine hardworking people. Thx tho for yr comments much appreciated!

i read with a lot of interest in all the comments posted as my fiancee is a brazillian national,i am panic stricken at the thought of her trying to pass this english test and by the sounds of it,i doubt if i would manage it myself,
my fiancee returns to brazil in march after spending a few months with me in the uk and i cant get any information on any test centres in brazil which is very frustrating along with the increasing cost of visas and flights etc,this is very unfair and very frustrating
i think the ukba is deliberately trying to make things hard for everyone and even their website is like a maze,i cant even find any esol courses for her to study in scotland simply because she does not reside her permanently and therefore is refused any help from local education
i would be most grateful for any suggestions or help

my wife in china has applied to come to the uk but she done it on the 29th november 2010 she now has to do this english test but i cant find the location or address for her to take this test. please can anyone tell me the relevant information. we have been apart 4 years plus i have a daughter who is nearly 3 years old and she is also in china

In reply to the letter above.
you say you and your Chinese wife have been apart over 4 years?
why did you not apply much sooner for her visa.
I am also married to a Chinese woman and it's not almost 5 months that we have been apart.
I myself did not know about the new English test until I came back to the UK last July. after living in China with my wife for nine months of our married life.
welcome to the UK where it appears that British citizens and their spouses are being discriminated by the British government,all in the name of IMMIGRATION CONTROL.
perhaps the right Hon. Theresa May could give us honest answers to our questions.

please could she explain the difference between INTEGRATION for those of us who have partners from outside the European union, and those who belong to the European union. please take into account that apart from those from none EU Countries who also speak little or now English, there are already many thousands living here from within member states who cannot speak English or very little at that ?
I and and countless others can answer the above question .

the new ruling is aimed at Immigration control, not Integration.
it is very doubtful I or others will get honest and straightforward answers to our questions from those who have created this one sided new English test Law.

I must agree with Emily Churchill and many others.
Being with your foreign spouse is a right, not a privilege to live in the UK.

I think most people would certainly agree with what John Perry wrote at the start of this page, it's all very interesting and a very good post that I'm sure many more people will find of interest too.
it feels very strange to be very happily married and living in a COUNTRY that supposedly speaks of human rights and freedom, yet will not let my wife live here with me and also learn English here where it will be much easier for her.

OH, and I too am wondering where my wife would need to go in China to apply and take THE NEW ENGLISH TEST.
seems this new ruling has been rushed into force without any regard for those who it will affect.
for me, it is certainly not a privilege to be British and discriminated this way because I happened to fall in love with with a woman who is not from within the European union.
no doubt in due course I imagine there will be cases heard in the courts as to why the UK could be in breach of violating the human rights law and discriminating it's very own people.

we had some personal problems but then it always seems 1 step forward but 2 steps back. i agree that all people coming into the uk should know english but clearly this is stopping familys being reunited. my wife has since applied and now she is taking the english lessons and taking the exam asap. i am confident she will pass but it has cost a lot of money. when the uk joined the EU did all the people from the eu who entered the uk take an english test.i didnt think so!!!!!
david cameron and his crew havent got a clue what they are doing and the uk will forever be in recession there is no quick fix and they keep making cuts but they cant see that there aint enough money circulating around the uk when all these foreigners from the EU keep sending their money back home after they have earned it in the uk. also when british people emigrate to different countries do they have to learn their language? e.g. Spain
this english test is a disgrace but then i guess its already in force so theres nothing we can do to change it except just grin our teeth and get on with it

I am different, I will never give up !

here are two parts of the human rights act. perhaps you should read it.
this government seems to think it can just change the laws to suite themselves.


Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 16

1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

A British citizen has an absolute right to bring his/her spouse to live with him/her in Britain. This has nothing to do with economic migration.

Also look here !!


i would just wanna say thank you beautiful courageous brittish girls ....for being lovely and helpful .. me as an algerian i dont blame neither the uk ppl nor the uk gov for treating us like this i only blame my self for being poor and lazy and my country for being weak .

To Amin
My son in law is Algerian and i dont know a more hard working strong person. I do blame our government for the problems they are causing. I would gladly accept Said into my home he would need for nothing but he is determined to work for his family if only he could be with his wife. The Algerian people and their government are not to blame. Our government seems intent on listening to people who gain their opinions from the press and probably dont even know anyone from another country. I believe certain newspapers are breeding racism and they should be made to stop! But printing news about the wonderful people who can add to our country wont sell papers!! Im sorry Amin that you are taking the blame on yourself and your country because believe me our government leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion!!

thank u michelle for replying ....but if we were that hard working strong persons why we r the third world ...why we r not like the uk or sweden or even france or italy ... why we send hundreds of documents to get a visa to the uk and finally it gets refused for simple reasons where they made it clean and clear that they dont want u to be there ....many of us are great noone can deny this fact but who r really great are able to leave this beautiful country of ours cuz they need them in great countries they r leaving for the best and thats its right + our gov helps them to do so by making life very hard for them here so they dont bother gov by asking for changes and rights and to not guide ppl to do so ....its ok hope it gets better soon

Hello sir I want you to help me after the information I am a young Moroccan man married life my wife from the originally British find in the condition test Allgt English difficult large well because my Adrase I have is the level at start and hard to the fact that good in the test Allgt English what should I do and thank you at Cole case Sir

Hello sir I want you to help me after the information I am a young Moroccan man married life my wife from the originally British find in the condition test Allgt English difficult large well because my Adrase I have is the level at start and hard to the fact that good in the test Allgt English what should I do and thank you at Cole case Sir

just to sum up the arguments about no test centres in various countries should be looked upon as an advantage because if you look on the home office site there is a list of countries that have no test centres and therefore your fiance is exempt and no need to take the test

they dont look it at that way they look at the countries and then see if the english language is the 1st language being used. china obviously is not exempt.can someone please tell me where my wife can take this english test in china??????

Thank you for the info.
it's typical of the British system doing things this way.
yet another instance of picking on the minority, thinking no one will say anything.
nothing new to see the UK government breaking the law . the human rights act is just another example .

I am an algerian national living in the UK , my wife is British and we have 2 beatiful children, I work and contribute to the economy and have never broken the law i never claimed any public funds, i did not have the right to do so for 2 years. All this seems to be a problem for the UK government as i am non-EU citizen ??

he is a Romanian, polish, Spanish, French or Belgian...etc , Living in the UK and enjoying the same rights as any british citizen and obviously have the right to claim benefits. he is sometimes here with little or no english at all and does not have to pass english language and life in the uk tests. All this seems to be ok for the media and government ??

why can a polish national bring his brazilian partner to the UK under the EU immigration laws and both don't have to pay for their visa , when a british citizen with his or her non-eu partner have to give birth to a £1080 for indefinit leave to remain , nearly £700 for a spouse visa, and pay £34 for life in the UK test.

I really love the UK, this country which gave me a beatiful wife and two little baby angels. this is a great nation if it is not the greatest in the world and i trully mean it. . just a bit more of fairness, it would make this nation the dream land.
Fairness towards british citizens and let them at least choose their partner and the way they want to found a family, then fairness towards residents and treat them equally , whether they are from Europe or outside it.

In reply to the Algerian.

I have copied a few links here for you and anyone else.



Home Secretary Theresa May said:

'I believe being able to speak English should be a prerequisite for anyone who wants to settle here. The new English requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services.

'It is a privilege to come to the UK, and that is why I am committed to raising the bar for migrants and ensuring that those who benefit from being in Britain contribute to our society.

'This is only the first step. We are currently reviewing English language requirements across the visa system with a view to tightening the rules further in the future.

This is, as the writer states, a right not a privilege. Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 16

1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

A British citizen has an absolute right to bring his/her spouse to live with him/her in Britain. This has nothing to do with economic migration.

it's all about money and of course politics.

What a fantastic comment from the home secretary, "raising the bar for migrants " why not raisong the bar for migrants comming from different parts of Europe ? I do not need the home secretary to tell me that i need to learn english,i've learnt english before even i come to this country, i had to pass a life in the UK test and answer 24 stupid questions such us : what is bank holiday, when is valentines day, what is the capital of wales....etc. is really ansewring these questions making you a good citizen? I don't think so, i got all the questions rights, but i still don't see the benefit of the test.
I actually asked some of my british friends and family to answer some of the questions and got them wrong. should they be deported from the country because they don't know where the irish assemply is ???
I think the gouverment needs to rethink their policy towards immigration, how to control it and promote integration for those living here.
again, closing the doors for husbands and partners of british citizens or making it hard for them to found a family and opening the doors for 27 countries to come live and work is a complete aberation.
how many polish are in the country with no reason to be here but work and send money to poland? i have french friends who are coming to britain to work and save money to take it back to france and use it there.
my reason for being in britain is my wife, then my kids , and these are human reasons, not just economic.
we have been through a financial and psycological hell before starting our family because of costy visas, flight tickets, tests ..... if you are a romanian criminal you can enter the UK without being asked a single question in the airport just because it happened that your mum gave birth in romania, i mean europe.
never mind i still love this country and i still think it's a privilage for me to be here.

lovely post, it is a privilege to live here but also a right for any British person who is married to someone from any other Country,
the home Secretary Theresa May seems to have got her wording a little wrong.

I quote her saying,

'I believe being able to speak English should be a prerequisite for ANYONE who wants to settle here. The new English requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services.

anyone who wants to settle here . look at the wording above.

if this is so, and it is certainly written that way, then this must also apply to all Countries not just none European member states.
again, this Government has got it wrong.
only recently the high court over ruled the capping of migrant workers that Theresa May has made a ruling on.
now many of us must endure being separated from our loved ones,
this new law which is actually breaking the human rights law, is supposed to help cut Immigration by tens of thousands. that has all fallen by the wayside.
this Government hopes this will all blow over. but as long as there are those out there who are willing to fight for their rights and also against those who seem to take it on themselves to break the laws when it pleases them, then this debate will never go away.

i was wondering if anyone has taken this esol test and could enlighten me as to how easy/hard it was and what kind of questions to expect and any other information which could help my brazillian fiancee,also how much it costs
i would be most grateful for any help

These post have given me a little more reassurance with my heartache over the past 2 years.

I have been with my South African husband for over 5 years now. We worked and lived together in Scotland when he was visiting the UK on a working holiday visa.

We have proof of living together as an unmarried couple in the UK for 3 years. Joint Credit Card, Joint Lease etc.

My partner left the UK in July 2008. Since then, we have made an application for him to return to the UK on a Student Visa (as he had a placement set up at Birmingham University). This was rejected. I then went to a local immigration solicitor who helped me with an application for a non married partner.

I have been to South Africa 4 times since my partner left the UK. in 2009, I stayed with him (with a joint lease) for 3 months in Johannesburg. I have all the stamps in my passport showing all my visits. On my last visit (my birthday), I used my last 4 days annual leave and spend 5 days in South Africa. While there, my partner and I became husband and wife.

We processed another visa application last week for spouse visa. We included all the solicitors documents, letters, photos etc as well as marriage certificate and photos of our wedding day and wedding dinner.

The visa was rejected yesterday on the grounds that we have no proof we have had any contact since my husband left the UK in 2008.

I am heartbroken at the result. My reason for going to south africa for 3 months in 2009 was to see if I enjoyed it and if I felt I could live there. I was subject to racial abuse while I was there, which is why we want to settle in the UK. I work F/T, have no debts, have 5 years proof of our relationship, have a marriage certificate from Free State - and the visa was still rejected!

Can anyone please give me advise on where we go from here? Do we send even more proof (even though they have seen my passport, my tickets etc) or is it better to appeal?

This legislation is barbaric. I am a UK citizen who has paid taxes in the UK for 25 years. My wife is Ukrainian and we have a lovely daughter who is now 4 months old. We were about to submit her spouse visa application when this legislation was suddenly brought forward and implemented. The system is chaotic and the infrastructure is not in place. The only testing centres are in Kiev. There is no specific test in place to obtain the required CEFR A1 level so the only tests available are complex, business-orientated, taken in 2 parts and need to have the respective pass mark 'mapped' from their making structure to the CEFR one. There are disputes about the mapping level so in some cases CEFR have just upped the pass mark required so that it is not longer a basic level that is required to pass. Also there is not enough capacity, forcing us to be apart for months longer than we have already while waiting for the test. My wifes' English is good enough for us to communicate and she is learning more all the time and I am also learning Russian, but I fear that she may fail the test, as she said that the first part was very difficult and nothing like a 'basic test of English'.
Besides all of this chaos, this legislation has NOTHING to do with integration,etc. It is pure discrimination against UK citizens and citizens of non-EU countries.
Firstly, citizens of EU countries are exempt! So it would be OK for me to marry a Polish woman who speaks not one word of English and she would be welcome, but because she is Ukrainian she is not.
Secondly, spouses of asylum seekers are also exempt. So now the rights of a British citizen are secondary to the rights of asylum seekers! I wish to point out that I fully support our role in providing asylum but would expect to be afforded the same rights as a British citizen.

Aside from all of this argument, immigration as a result of a British citizen falling in love and marrying somebody from overseas represents a tiny proportion of total immigration so I fail to understand why it is being targeted in this way. Surely this is the most natural and organic form of immigration and should be protected. If the situation is deemed to be so urgent that married couples are being targetted then perhaps the government should instead be looking at stopping all immigration from ALL countries for people with no existing family connection in the UK first and maybe actually get round to tracing and expelling the hundreds of thousands of missing failed asylum seekers who are in the UK illegally.

Once my wife and I were married and had a child together, the visa application should have consisted of a simple visit to the British Embassy in Kiev, maybe an interview and the presentation of our documents and the granting of the visa in the same day, especially since it costs £600!!!??. The UK Border Agency is paid for out of our taxes. They should exist to provide a service and to give us the visa to which we should be entitled. Unfortunately, it seems to exist purely to reject as many applications as possible on technicalities. The attitude of the staff is pompous and self-important and their warped logic when refusing visas is quite obviously the result of a 'results orientated' system instead of a humane and common sense one. My wife was not allowed a simple visitors visa in December 2009. Whatever evidence and documentation you produce they will inevitably just say that there is not sufficient reason to believe that she will return home. When my wife took her language test she spoke to another lady who is married to a UK citizen and was rejected a 2 week visitor visa for this reason even though she has a 5 year old child in Ukraine!!!! I have also spoken to people who have visited before but are now being rejected from further visits even when presenting exactly the same documentation and evidence as before.

I find it hugely depressing that I am just trying to get on with my family life and am being obstructed in this way. I never voted for a government to do this to me. I never voted for the EU and dont see why EU countries should be treated any differently from others such as Ukraine. My taxes go towards unemployment benefits for others and presumably for asylum seekers. I accept this as my social responsibility but not when I am not permitted to live with my wife in the UK. We want no public funds or help from anybody.

This is causing distress to myself, my 14 year old son and elderly parents in the UK and to Tanya and our new baby. It is also damaging my business in the UK. It is nothing short of a scandal and a disgrace!

hello everybody,
i am really very confused regarding i think a new law for a test which must be done for a spouse visa.my sister in law was refused twice last year for a spouse visa and wish to apply again as soon as possible but she is told that before applying she needs to pass the test before .i wonder if this is the test for english or the one test for the uk?if so where in tunisia could take the test and how.

thanks a lot and good luck for everybody.

To be honest i would say england is an absolute disgrace. i married my wife who has been visiting the uk since she was 14 years and yet she still can not get a spouse visa first thing first she is a lawyer and well educated in nigeria and am a training baarrister and yet these laws are made to stop british citizen marrying foreigners it is a disgrace i must say. we have applied 7 times and still yet she has not managed to get a visa there is always a document missing or they dont think i can support her and yet she herself own a bank account in the uk and some cases they reject the application without a good reason i have been left fustrated till my MP stepped in and only last month after two year we did manage to get a visa what a shame .

I am happily married to the most wonderful woman I could ever have wished to meet.
sadly we are still apart because of the new English test.
let me make it clear. my wife is not interested in living here in the UK . she is not interested in a British passport or British citizenship.
we only wish to be allowed to spend some time together, that is why she is waiting to hear to see if they will give her a visitor visa.
I am in a good job, have my own place. and we certainly don't need any help from the state !!
now we are waiting to see if we are allowed to spend a little time together as a married couple. in a few short years. I will retire. then my wife wants me to live in her Country.
the vast majority of people who come to the UK to live are genuine,but there are and always will be a minority who abuse the Immigration system.
one thing is for certain, my wife and I will never divorce,even if we must be forced to continue to live apart because of a barbaric law that has been been introduced and brought forward without proper consideration for the genuine happy families it continues to break up !!

Hi! I am Russian married to lovely English man. We've been married for 2 years but couldn't apply for spouse visa before because of my job (I am lawyer in Russia). Now we are in the same situation as those who have to pass Enghlish test before applying for spouse visa. Here is some of my advices for you. First of all, I can assure you that A1 level test is very very simple and person is able to prepare him/herself for this test quite easily, so you don't have to pay for courses but just for exam.
For Brasilian, Chinees and other women (and men) whose countries don't provide A1 level exam I can see only one solution - apply for UK Student visa or Family visitor visa then come to UK and take exam there.
For Anonymous February 13, 2011 sorry I didn't get why can't your wife apply for family visitor visa? If everything is ok with your accomodation and salary in UK their can't refuse her but you make sure that you have evidence that you two are real couple (pics, phone bills, emails ect - thats stupid I know, but rules are rules). I did the same for 2 years and I've been granted UK family visitor visa each time I applied for it. The most difficult thing was to explain visa officers why don't I apply for spouse visa if I married British citizen, seems they just don't understand how can someone not to want to go in UK straight away ;))
I wish good luck to everyone who is going to take exam and I wish to their spouses to be patient. Everything gonna be allright! Our goverments can make barriers for us but they can't us stop loving our "foreign" spouses. Love will win! It always does! :))

can someone please please please tell me one of the approved test centres in China because my wife has been refused entry clearance and i got to appeal but she is now ready to take this exam but i dont know where.i have looked on the home office website but i cant seem to find any address details

I am not sure where the test centers are in China. my wife is also Chinese.
she was refused the visitor visa because it appears that 260 to 300+ a pounds week is not enough to support two people. you must also show savings with lots of money..
there are many families with no savings who manage well on the normal salary
current salary should be good enough but not so according to the visa office. it all helps to make life more difficult for a spouse from a none European country to get a visa..
if appeals and English test fails for certain reasons, then it is best to take it to the courts of human rights.
but only when all else fails.
read the human rights act !!

Ive been married for almost 1 year now to my Tunisian husband and we are still living apart.
I too have been jumping through hoops to get him here with me. We first appiled for a visitors visa at a cost of £67.00 which was refused..Then we applied for a marriage wisa so he could come to the UK and we could marry here, this too was refused for another £249.00. After this we married in Tunisia and I came back alone, applied for a spousal visa, another £650 and refused again that was on 10th August 2010 saying we didnt give enough proof....Everything that had been asked for we provided as it stated on the Website......We decided to appeal within the month. I went back to Tunisia in November ans we went to the Embassy there to ask what had happened to our appeal papers, which should have arrived in the UK within the next 2 weeks from the August....They still had the papers there!!! I saw a lawyer here in the UK who suggested that it would be better to get the papers back and do another application as the chances of a refusal being overruled were very slim and another year could pass and we would still more than likely have to apply again...This is what we're now in the process of doing....
Now this english test....Apart from the British Government having put up the costs of the visas...twice...once in November 2010 and now again in April ...so we now have the cost of a visa @ £810...plus the test @ another £100....I've had a look at the test online and for someone who hasn't studied the language I dont know how they are supposed to pass it. I also noted that they dont seem to to do the A1 that is supposedly the level that is needed by the borders Agency and our government....Then they have the nerve to say that we dont have any savings???? How are we supposed to save when the Government are taking it on unachievable visa fees, not to mention the fact of holiday airfares etc to be with my husband, 5 since 2009, which for someone who doesnt normally go on holidays is a lot of travelling and money which we could have been saving...How are we supposed to do it ? And like a lot of people have been saying on here the BORDERS AGENCY WEBSITE...which is the only way to apply is a minefield...too many loops that take you back to the start and not enough in depth information about ALL the stuff proof papers etc that are necessary to make the applications in the first place....
I was so insensed by it all I wrote to MPs etc including the Prime Minister saying about all the "isms" Racism, sexism,ageism, not to mention Human Rights issues...What else can I do???Anyone out there who can point me in the right direction?

Could someone please give me advice before i go crazy :)))..I am British my husband is Tunisian living with me in UK. He has been here since August 1st last year. We would like to live in France however i dont know what we need EXAXTLY. We went to Lille and was told he needs MY tenancy agreement, MY wage slips etc although as he is the 1 who is applying i cant understand why they want to see MY wage slips. We then went to Immigration in Paris which is the Main/Head Office for the whole of France. We were told there he DOESNT need a job contract just an address. We have been told so many different things. We returned from France disullusioned. Obviously me as an EEU citizen has the right to live there. My husband being my spouse should have the right to live with me as my husband without a job contract.
The French Embassy here in UK have also said he needs a job contract. Surely this is if someone isnt already in UK and eg not yet married??!!! Any help/advice would be immensely appreciated.

I would imagine that they want your details to prove that you are indeed British and that your husband lives there with you. Also that you have the funds to support yourselves if you went to France, and that your husband has work in France so you both can afford to live there.

Thx for the post Sandra. Just cant understand why we continue to be given different information at each Immigration office we visit!!!.....

my friends wife is currently in Ghana, the husband is a british national. the wife has ESOL level 1 qualificatins from a recogonised education provider in the UK. does she need to pass A1 test before she apply for a spouse visa in order to join her husband in the uk.Please can someone explain to me all the requirements for this visa application.

from what i have been led to believe, according to the rules on the Borders agency pages, even if you have qualifications they still expect you to do the test again at a recognised test centre...more money for the government

the new english language test is incredibly unfair and David Cameron used an axample of a young lady wanting to come here on a fiancee visa . But I am a man of 69 and my lady friend is 57 . If a lady is 60 , she is exempt from the test and this is in effect reverse age discrimination. It is very sad that the British Government in the form of the UKBA who have their inbuilt prejudices can say which lady a man may marry . I wonder what a senoir politician would say if he was affected by this outrageous new law - he would no doubt then change his tune . I did send a letter to the Prime Minister's office some time ago but got no reply - surprise , surprise !!

Article 1 *

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my wife has passed the english test and i am over the moon but i need to apply again because the 1st time round it got refused. we were going to appeal but my solicitor said we should just apply again and argue against the factors concerning the refusal and hopefully pass. 800 pounds is not enough to support my wife and baby so i have to find another job asap. i send 500 pounds each month to my wife and child and overall all this case is costing me a bomb. the refusal entry officer is a evil person you should have read the refusal letter i was shocked and i nearly had a heart attack

Persecution, oppression, discrimination, look no further. we have it here in the UK. Britain is supposed to lead in human rights, such rubbish when it treats people including it's own subjects the way it does. just because we chose to marry someone out side the EU. our spouse has to pass a new English test. the life in the UK test was just fine, all they had to do was allow the new test to run alongside the present test. give spouses a decent and fair chance to learn English here, where they would also hear it day to day.

this is certainly not about integration ! more like immigration control.
if it is that important for people from none member states to learn English then the same should apply to many of those from within the EU who speak little or no English at all.
what we are seeing is really DISCRIMINATION and a breach of our Human rights.
and yet another way for the government to make lots of money with no regard for the misery they are causing to thousands of Brits and their partners.

hopefully at some point, this cruel new law will be abolished and buried forever.
it's sad that this is happening in the UK. to deny someone the right to live with their spouse is wicked, evil, and an injustice of the human rights laws of the UK.