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Accredited Colleges and English Language Courses

July 15th, 2011 by Christopher Knight

Under paragraph 33 of the Immigration Rules and regulation 5A of the British Nationality (General) Regulations 2003, which came into force on 7 April 2010, persons seeking indefinite leave to remain in the UK are required to attend an English for Speakers of Other Languages course at an accredited college.

In R (English Speaking Board (International) Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWHC 1788 (Admin) the ESB challenged that rule on the basis that its introduction without proper consultation was irrational and should be quashed. A considerable number of the colleges providing the relevant types of course remained unaccredited and it was difficult for them to meet the accreditation standards.

Interestingly, the Secretary of State conceded that the rule was indeed irrational because it was introduced without proper consultation. However, Wyn Williams J accepted that the change had a genuine, proper and desirable rationale and purpose. The fact of the rule was not irrational, it was simply arrived at by an inappropriate process. Wyn Williams J declined to make a quashing order, and made only a declaration in the terms of the Secretary of State’s concession.

The process of accredited colleges and ESOL courses is consequently left in the slightly odd position of continuing to apply with the full force of law, but where it has been held that the rule was unlawfully arrived at.