Victory against ‘absurd’ immigration rules

By Ian Dunt

An immigration rule which would have demanded that students coming to the UK to study English must already be able to speak the language has been shot down by the high court.

English language schools took on the battle after they decided the rules, introduced by shadow home secretary Alan Johnson when he was in government, would damage their business.

“It’s clearly absurd requiring students to know English before they come here to study it,” said Tony Milns, chief executive of English UK, which represents 440 language schools.

The new rule was part of the previous government’s drive against illegal immigration.

The victory was not on point of principle, but on technicality, with Mr Justice Foskett saying the new restrictions needed to formally change the rules, including presenting them to parliament, rather than just altering the guidelines.

“We are pleased that Mr Justice Foskett saw the merits of our case and we believe that his decision is good for the UK economy, to which the English language sector contributes about £1.5 billion in foreign earnings each year,” Mr Milns added.

The government recently made English language ability a mandatory part of acquiring a visa as a spouse of a British citizen.