A2 English language requirement for the family route - key updates following Aug 2017 changes - ICS Legal Blog

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A2 English language requirement for the family route – key updates following Aug 2017 changes

The new A2 English language requirement for non-EEA national partners and parents applying for further leave to remain on the family route have been introduced from 1 May 2017. It will apply to those required to apply for further leave to remain on a 5-year route to settlement as a partner or parent on or after that date. This statement of intent provides details about the new requirement, the speaking and listening qualifications which applicants can use to meet it, the approved tests available and the exemptions which will apply.

This government wants to remove the barriers that stop women from participating in the workforce. Improved English skills for migrants on the family route will help us move closer to this goal as well as making it easier for families to access vital public services and enabling parents to support their children’s education. The new A2 requirement will also support progression towards the B1 English language requirement at the settlement (ILR) stage, helping to ensure that migrants seeking to settle in the UK as a partner or parent are improving their language skills throughout the 5-year probationary period.

All applicants applying for further leave to remain in the UK under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules as a partner or parent of a British citizen or settled person or as the postflight partner of a refugee or person with humanitarian protection will have to meet the new A2 English language requirement, unless exempt from it, to continue on the 5-year partner or parent route to settlement under Appendix FM.

The requirement will apply to those whose leave to enter or remain as a partner or parent on a 5-year route to settlement under Appendix FM will expire on or after 1 May 2017. A partner or parent whose leave is due to expire from 1 May 2017 and who makes an application on or before 30 April 2017 will be subject to the A2 requirement if they are applying for further leave to remain. A partner or parent whose initial period of leave to enter or remain is due to expire before 1 May 2017 will not be affected by the new A2 requirement.

Since October 2013 all applicants for indefinite leave to remain, including under the family route, have been required to meet a B1 English speaking and listening requirement and pass the new Life in the UK test. Partners and parents granted leave to enter or remain under the family route will already be aware therefore of the need to improve their English language skills in order to complete the 5-year route to settlement. However, we recognise that some applicants may require additional time in which to improve their English language skills and pass an approved test in order to meet the new A2 English language requirement for further leave to remain on the 5-year route to settlement, and implementation of the new A2 requirement from 1 May 2017 is intended to provide this.

An applicant failing to meet the A2 English language requirement for further leave to remain as a partner or parent under the 5-year route to settlement after 2.5 years (30 months) in the UK will have to meet the relevant requirements of Appendix FM or demonstrate exceptional circumstances in order to be granted leave to remain here on family or private life grounds under a 10-year route to settlement. They will still have to meet the B1 English language requirement and pass the Life in the UK test in order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain after 10 years.