English teacher refused UK visa to live with fiance - because her English 'isn't good enough'

By Luke Bartlett | Walsall | News | Published:

An English teacher has been prevented from joining her fiance in the Black Country after the Home Office deemed her English is not good enough.

Peter and Alejandra

Mexican national Alejandra Santiago applied to settle in the UK in March and was due to marry her British partner, Peter O'Hare from Walsall.

But the couple had to delay their wedding when the Home Office turned the visa application down.

Alejandra, aged 36, returned to Mexico to submit the visa application but has now been told she cannot live with her partner in Britain because the English language test she completed was not 'approved for settlement'.

The couple's lawyer said this was despite the fact it granted her an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate dated October 28 2017, which she passed to 'a very high level'.

A refusal letter sent from the Home Office stated that while Alejandra met the relationship and financial requirements for a visa, her English was not up to the required standard.

Alejandra met Peter in Dublin while she was studying there for a year before leaving to teach English in China.

And the couple have now been unable to see each other since April, having waited five months for a decision on her visa application – three months longer than the Home Office's own time limit on such claims.


Peter has labelled the situation 'ridiculous' and said that his lawyer had told him it would be 'a very straightforward application'.

He told the Independent the situation had been both stressful and expensive, with the couple having to pay for a lawyer on top of the £1,777 application fee.

Writing on social media, Alejandra said: "I’m very disappointed by the UK immigration system.

"They take so long to make a decision, they fail to track my documents and at the end they refuse entry clearance because I don’t meet the language requirements. What’s wrong with my English?"


The Home Office refusal letter said: "In support of your application you have provided an IELTS Academic certificate issued on 07/11/2017; however this which is not an English language test which is approved by the Secretary of State for the purposes of settlement.

"Every English language test taken on or after 6 April 2015 by a partner or parent applicant must meet the new requirements in respect of the approved tests, providers and secure test centres offered by Trinity College London or the IELTS SELT Consortium."

Jordana Adams, the immigration solicitor at OTS Solicitors who represent the couple, said: "IELTS are recognised by the Home Office. They take your ID; her photo was on there; it is done with the British Council.

"She passed it at a very high level. I really cannot see there can be any doubt she that she meets the minimum language requirement.

“It doesn’t really make any sense to me. I have not seen something like this before.

"I have seen cases where the Home Office has not looked at documents properly and wrongly rejected visitor visa applications, but not on a fiance marriage visa.”

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed the application was refused because the applicant submitted an English language certificate which did not meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules.

They added: “All UK visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with UK immigration rules and guidance.

"The onus is on the applicant to demonstrate that they satisfy the Immigration Rules.”

Luke Bartlett

By Luke Bartlett
Trainee Reporter - @lbartlett_star

Trainee Express & Star reporter covering Dudley and Sandwell. Get in touch on 01902 319445 or via

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