Along with other recent changes in immigration laws, now, the Home office has further enforced another law which is giving immigrants a tough time. They have prescribed ‘Britishness Test’ that must be passed by immigrants in order to be considered as a British citizen. This test is based on a booklet containing facts and figures about life in Britain. It consists of a bizarre combination of questions relating to British history, art, music and literature. Questions like ‘When were the first public films shown in the UK?’ and ‘The people of which age made the first coins to be minted in Britain?’ have nothing to do with current Britain and seem completely out of context.
Nevertheless, this is the new law and the most recent victim to it is Margaux Nelson, 24, who runs a pub in a Cheddleton, a small English village. The pub is famously known as ‘The Black Lion’. Nelson has been running the pub alongside her husband Rob Farrell, also 24, ever since they both took over it in April earlier this year.
Nelson is originally from Hawaii and met Rob, a British citizen, while he was working there. They have been married for almost three years now. When they returned to England, Nelson was given a visa for just two years, which is about to expire now. In order to extend her stay, Nelson has to pass a ‘Life in the UK test’ by September 28 this year. She has already failed the test once and must either pass the test in the next attempt or leave the country by the 29th of September this year.
According to the couple, Nelson has acquired higher education and yet still is required to know certain artists by name and historic details which they feel is irrelevant to their stay in England. They claim to have lived in three counties before finally settling in Cheddleton and now this too has been made difficult for them. They also claim to be fluent in English and be law abiding citizens who pay their taxes and national insurance. If Nelson does not clear her test again and overstays, she could be blocked from re-entering the country for a number of years.
Another hindrance the couple is encountering is the fee of the test which is eleven hundred pounds, and fifty pounds for a retake.
The couple first found themselves in this mess when they rang immigration to discuss Nelson’s expiring visa. The immigration office then informed them of the new regulation and said that Nelson would have to pass a ‘Life in the UK’ test first, and that the test was to be held in Sheffield. She was then sent a book to study and had to give the test within two weeks of being told about it.
In order to prove the ridiculousness of the questions of this test, the couple ingeniously decided to hold a quiz consisting of the same questions at their club. The result was that not one of the native British citizens in the pub got the minimum number of 17 questions correct.
The couple emphasized the fact that they were hard working honest citizens who paid their taxes on time. Having said this they expressed their disapproval at the immigration system and said that they wanted to draw attention to this case so that other such couples would be spared the trouble in the future.