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Thomas, Solicitor
Category: UK Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 7432
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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I have a Russian wife and we are currently living in Russian.

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I have a Russian wife and we are currently living in Russian. We are in the process of gathering the required information for applying for a UK Partners visa, but we have come up against a potential problem regarding my wife's English language qualifications.

The UKBA requires her to have a minimum of CERF A1 level, which is very basic English for listening and hearing. My wife has a Russian degree in English and Japanese, which includes the subjects for teaching and translating these languages, however according to the UKBA this qualification may not meet the standards they require as the degree was not solely taught in English. The issue we have is that my wife's qualification easily surpasses the UKBA requirements. My wife's has taught English in her local Russian University and her current job for the last 6 years has been to work with English speaking expats as a translator and also to translate documents.

We have also sent my wife's degree for a UK NARIC assessment and they have verified that the degree is equal to a UK Bachelors Honours Degree.

My question is this - will my wife's degree along with the UK NARIC assessment be proof enough to meet the UKBA requirements?

Many thanks,
Terry Bruce
Hi Terry,

Is there some restriction or reason why your wife could not pass an english language test and meet the english language eligbility requirement that way?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Tom,


There is a couple reasons;

1. My contract here is expiring in June/July, meaning my visa will expire. So for that reason we was wanting to apply now for the UK visa and start the process.

2. We are living in Sakhalin Island on the east side of Russia, very remote and the english language test will not be held here until August 2013.


We have looked into this, but it seems crazy that my wife would need to do this test when her qualification exceeds the test requirements.


Do you think the english language test is the only option?



Hi Terry,

Thanks for your patience.

I think that to be certain of being accepted having her pass an English language test would be the best way forward.

The requirement in respect of relying on a degree for the purpose of meeting the English language requirement for a spouse visa is (as you have correctly identified) that it is the equivalent of a bachelors degree under UK NARIC and that it was taught in English. If the degree was not taught solely in English then under the strict interpretation that the UKBA tends to put on these matters it would not qualify.

A looser interpretation would that although the degree was not solely taught in English it was in fact teaching English and that it would be unreasonable and disproportionate to take the view that the standard of English a graduate of this would attain would be less than the standard now required for the spouse visa.

The difficulty is that I could easily see that if you applied on this basis the UKBA would rely on their interpretation and reject the application. You would appeal of course and would probably stand a good chance because your wife would be able to evidence in testimony (quite apart from the degree itself) that she has the sufficient standard fo English.

The problem would be the time it would take for them to reject the application, for you to give notice of appeal and for the appeal to actually be heard. It could easily be 6 months and more. The quickest possibly scenario would be 4 months from the date of your application and I would not be at all confident of that.

The most certain way forward in my view (and it is just a view) is that on balance it would be better for your wife to take the test now. If this means that she has to travel to another part of Russia or to another country to take then I would think this worth the risk if it’s affordable to you because she will plainly pass and then you would have the evidence required to meet the requirement.

Your wife's command of english means the whole things a folly really, but you've to play by their rules regrettably.

I am sorry that I could not have better news for you.

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Kind regards,

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