London: In a setback to non-English speaking immigrants from countries like India, the British High Court has dismissed a legal challenge to a new immigration rule requiring people to be able to speak English before coming to the UK to live with their spouse.

British citizen Rashida Chapti, 54, and her 57-year-old Indian husband Vali Chapti were one of three named claimants in the case. The couple, who have been married for 37 years, have six children and have divided their time for 15 years between Leicester and India.

But Vali Chapti, who does not speak, read or write English, cannot move to the UK under the new immigration rule.
The challenge to the rule, introduced in November 2010, also claimed the language requirement was unlawful and constituted discrimination on grounds of race and nationality.

But Justice Beatson ruled the new language test was not a disproportionate interference with the couples' right to family life.

In his judgment, Justice Beatson ruled that the changes did not interfere with the rights of the claimants, "since it does not prevent marriage within the UK where both parties are present, or prevent anyone within the UK from travelling abroad to get married".

He ruled the aims - to promote integration and to protect public services - were "legitimate aims".

Justice Beatson said: "The new rule does not indirectly discriminate on the grounds of nationality, ethnic origins or disability."

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the ruling would affect many UK citizens.

But Britain's Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "We believe it is entirely reasonable that someone intending to live in the UK should understand English, so that they can integrate and participate fully in our society.