Changes in the immigration rules laid before Parliament in October 2010 will be introduced on 29 November 2010. From then on all dependants except those in the Points Based System will have to show competence in English at level A1 of the Common European Framework for Referencing (CEFR).
The language requirement affects anyone applying as the husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner, same-sex partner, fiance(e) or proposed civil partner of a British citizen or a person settled in this country. It is applicable to applicants extending their stay in the UK and as applicants from overseas.
Applicants from poor countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh who have large migrant communities in the UK will suffer from the measure the most.
However, human rights’ campaigners such as Liberty have vowed to challenge the English language requirements under the new rules because they articulate a different view of the matter according to which Asian, South American, or African dependants (who are likely to be villagers) will find it impossible to pass the onerous requirement of satisfying level A1 of the CEFR: easy as it might seem to the Home Secretary. Liberty have already opposed the Life in the UK Test which they presciently point out is a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
It is also worth asking why Britain is so committed to punishing its former colonies? One glance at the Aliens Act 1905 reveals that although the principles of immigration were the same, but much less complicated, its provisions were directed at curtailing immigration from Europe and not the colonies. Just a century later the situation is entirely reversed. Hope to post more on European and post-colonial comparisons soon.