London: Two voluntary organisations championing the cause of migrant workers on Wednesday criticised the UK government`s decision to make English test compulsory for non-European spouses to join their partners here.
Don Flynn, from the Migrants` Rights Network, said the benefits of learning English were obvious but couples should not be penalised for wanting to be together.
He said: "The issue here is that the right to marry and found a family is a basic human right.”
“And is it proper, is it right, that that right to marry should be made conditional on passing a test in English? Our view is that it shouldn`t be."
Hina Majid of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said that she supported helping immigrants to learn English, but the plans were discriminatory.
"Take the young girl (from a developing country) who meets the love of her life and wants to come over here to be with him. It may take her several years to pass and in that time they may not be able to live together in the UK.”
“It`s unnecessary, it`s costly and it will tear families apart," she said.
From September this year, all non-European migrants will have to demonstrate a basic command of English that allows them to cope with everyday life before they are granted a visa.
The rules will apply to spouses, civil partnerships, unmarried couples, same sex partners and fiancés, and will be compulsory for people applying from within the UK, as well as visa applicants from overseas.