The Prime Minister Gordon Brown will announce new English tests as additional requirement for skilled migrants from non-EU countries today when addressing at a TUC conference.

The Guardian reports:

All skilled workers entering Britain from outside the EU will from next year be required to be proficient in English equivalent to GCSE level with the same requirement likely to be imposed on intermediate skilled workers soon after.

The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, told BBC 1’s Sunday AM: “One of the ways in which I think we can make sure that people integrate more quickly…is by expecting people who are coming here through the skilled and slightly less-skilled route to actually be able to speak English.”

At the moment only workers in the “highly skilled” category need to demonstrate that they can speak English before they are given permission to work in the UK. Separate language tests exist for those seeking right of abode or citizenship in the UK. The government estimates 35,000 of the 95,000 skilled migrants who entered the UK last year would not have been able to show they could speak the language. The requirement cannot be imposed on migrants from the EU since they enjoy free movement of labour under EU rules.

The Conservative immigration spokesman, Damian Green, said: “This will be a relatively minor measure unless it leads to a cut in the numbers of people coming here.”