Tuesday, September 7, 2010

UK Marriage and Partner Visas - Certificate of Approval to be abolished

UK Immigration will be abolishing the 'certificate of approval' scheme probably in the next six months. It is currently the case that if you are an immigrant wishing to marry or register a civil partnership you will firstly need to apply for a certificate of approval. The only exception to this is if you wish to marry in an Anglican church.

The UK Courts have decided that the certificate of approval scheme is in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK Government also says that due to certain Court rulings it has "…weakened the scheme, and it is no longer an effective method of preventing sham marriage…".
Please note that until the certificate of approval scheme is abolished you will still need to apply for permission to marry or register a civil partnership. It is not certain exactly when the scheme will be abolished. Probably it will be abolished towards the end of 2010 or early in 2011. However, this depends on the UK Parliament.
The one year period during which you could apply for a repayment of the certificate of approval fee if this caused you financial hardship ended on 31 July 2010. This covers certificate of approval fees paid between 2005 and 2009.
Even after the 'certificate of approval' scheme is abolished you will still need to give notice of your intended marriage or civil partnership to a designated register office. Abolishing the scheme will benefit thousands of people a year who will be able to more easily remain with their spouse or partner in the UK.

UK English Language test for spouses and partners to be introduced

If you wish to join or marry your British citizen spouse or a permanent resident in the UK you will from 29 November 2010 need to pass an English language test with an approved test provider.

If you are not an EU citizen you will need to show that you can speak and understand English if you wish to apply under one of the following categories to join your spouse or partner in the UK:
  • Husband or wife
  • Civil Partner
  • Unmarried Partner
  • Same-sex Partner
  • Fiance/e
  • Proposed Civil Partner
Immigration Minister Damian Green had the following to say:
"Speaking English promotes integration into British society and broadens opportunities. The new rules will help ensure that migrant spouses are able to participate in British life from the outset and integrate more easily into wider UK society".
If you wish to come under the current immigration rules you will need to apply in the next four months. From 29 November 2010 you will have to pay for and pass an English test to gain entry as a spouse or partner.

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