Those planning to apply for British citizenship may soon be requested to prove they have a higher command of the English language. Residents in Britain planning to get UK passports will need to pass a new “British values test”, which is set to be tougher than the current “Life in the UK test”.
The UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Tuesday at the Conservative Party autumn conference in the city of Birmingham that the level of language proficiency expected for adults seeking to naturalize as UK citizens, would increase.
“This is the time to reaffirm our identity and values as a country. To renew our sense of citizenship – what it means, who is part of it. And to do whatever we can to protect our society and its values in the years to come,” Javid said, claiming that language ability is a key skill for effective integration of adults in the UK.
Throughout his speech, Secretary Javid said that the existing “Life in the UK” is not enough, claiming that there is a need to make a British values test, which would be more about integration, rather than segregation.
“When I was the Communities Secretary, we found that over 700,000 people in the UK cannot even speak a basic level of English. How can we possibly make a common home together if we cannot even communicate with each other? That is why I created a new Integrated Communities Fund, to work with people already in our country. And now, as Home Secretary, I will apply these principles to those who arrive in our country. So not only will there be a new values test but we will also strengthen the English language requirements for all new citizens,” he said during the conference.
According to the current Home Office requirements, people who apply for an Indefinite Leave to remain or citizenship, are asked to prove English knowledge qualification at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level.
However, Labor’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, sarcastically pointed out that Javid’s proposal was no improvement to Theresa May’s ‘British values’ test in 2015 or even Norman Tebbit’s earlier cricket test.
“The idea that a government, whose hostile environment policy and handling of the Windrush scandal has brought shame to the country, should be defining British values is deeply worrying,” she said regarding the issue.