On 29 November 2010, the Secretary of State of the Home Department (SSHD) introduced additional requirements for entry clearance applications into the UK. Namely, applicants were made to meet a prove they meet a predetermined level of English Language. To prove this, all entry clearance applicants are required to set an English language test a pass to a minimum level of B1.

Since it’s introduction, the English language requirement has been a source of conflict with many questioning it’s usefulness. A process of litigation began in 2010 between the SSHD and ‘R’ (on the applications of Ali and Bibi) . After five years, the Supreme Court handed down a judgement on 18 November 2015, ahead of a final decision which has not yet been reached.

In the judgement, several important judicial statements were regarding the fairness and usefulness of the requirement. It was acknowledged that in many cases, the pre-entry language requirement does little to aid integration once the applicant enters the UK. Similarly, questions were raised about the fairness of expecting applicants and/or their family members to finance adequate tuition and or test fees. The process as many are aware, can be costly and lengthy. Most importantly however, key points were raised with regards to whether the pre-entry language requirement interferes with the applicants Human Rights under Article 8.

This judgement, while not binding, offers a hopeful insight into the final determination which will soon be made on the pre-entry language requirement. It seems likely that the SSHD will have to issue new, modified guidance which reflects the court’s concerns.