EEA Nationals and the TOEIC test

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 3:00 pm, 5th March 2019

As I indicated earlier, those who received a questionable result were given the opportunity to take an additional test or to attend an interview before any action was taken against them. I know that Members have expressed concern about the reliability of the matching. It is important to note that an independent expert report from Professor French, a professor of speech science, which reviewed the system, indicated that the number of false matches was likely to be very small. It is also worth noting that the courts, even when finding in favour of individuals, said that the evidence for invalid cases was enough to justify reasonable suspicion of fraud and for the Home Office to take action. It is then for individuals to address this evidence, as a number have, through appeal or judicial review.

The first part of the hon. Lady’s amendment requires the Secretary of State to disregard the results of any English language test for any EEA or Swiss national applying for settled status, pre-settled status, to work or study or for any other visa system established under the provisions of the Bill. We have set out very clearly our intention to create a single, skills-based immigration system. English language ability will remain a key strand of the immigration requirements for many of those coming to work, study and settle in the UK. Although EEA nationals often have excellent English language skills, currently we exempt only nationals of majority English-speaking countries and those who have certain qualifications obtained in English, having shown their English language skills through a secure English language test.

Requiring EU citizens to obtain evidence of their English language would put them on a par with a citizen of any other non-majority English-speaking country under the current system. However, evidence of English language is not a requirement for settled or pre-settled applications, and no EEA or Swiss national applying under the settlement scheme will have to demonstrate their English language ability.

The Government believe it is a reasonable expectation that those coming to work or study in the UK are able to speak a satisfactory level of English. Therefore, evidence of English language will continue to be a requirement for other visa routes, such as study and skilled work routes.