A growing number of Council of Europe member States have introduced
integration tests for migrants, based primarily on knowledge of
the language of the host country, but also sometimes on “citizenship”
issues, including history, political institutions, society and democratic
There is no doubt that an ability to master a language can
contribute to successful integration. However there are serious
concerns that some of these tests may in fact be hindering integration
and leading to exclusion: pre-entry tests can be an obstacle to
family reunification, while integration tests for migrants once
in the host country can prevent them from enjoying secure residence
rights, causing resentment in migrant communities and discrimination
against certain groups, particularly people who may be illiterate
or have low levels of education.
There are also concerns that the primary purpose – or at least
a predictable consequence – of these tests is to cut down the number
of migrants arriving or remaining in the countries concerned. If
this is the case, they are a step backwards.
Member States should ensure that these tests are based on
achievable attainment levels, that the tests and learning processes
are financially supported, and that alternatives to testing are
available (to reflect the fact that not everyone has the same linguistic
capabilities or needs).
Furthermore, the Committee of Ministers should look at how
to adapt the Council of Europe’s language proficiency reference
levels (the “Common European Framework of References for Languages”
(CEFR)), used by member States in many of these tests, but which
were never designed as an instrument for measuring integration.