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English language ability and financial independence no help in human rights appeals


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An old case, this, but it’s only just appeared on Bailii: SC (Bangladesh) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWCA Civ 3069. The issue was whether the public interest considerations in sections 117B(2) and (3) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (as amended) can be treated as positive factors.

Put another way: when someone without a visa is applying to stay in the UK because of family or personal ties, judges are told by law to hold it against them if they don’t speak English and aren’t financially independent. For a while there was an argument about whether that test was only negative: if a person has perfect English and loads of money, did that actively count in their favour?

That was settled by the Supreme Court in Rhuppiah [2018] UKSC 58. Where a person is financially independent and can speak English, these do not become presumptions in their favour — they just don’t have marks deducted, as it were.

In SC (Bangladesh), the Court of Appeal basically just confirms this: “it is now established that section[s] 117B(2) and (3) do not require the Tribunal to take into account fluency in English and financial independence as factors in [an] Article 8 appellant’s favour”.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.