New requirements for immigrants to speak basic English before joining their spouse in the UK were deemed racist last night.
It is claimed the language test discriminates against British-Indian families and their traditions, and breaches their human rights.
The Home Office now requires such people to speak a minimum level of English.
But three couples are challenging the rule, introduced by Home Secretary Theresa May in November.
They claim it contravenes their rights to a family life, their right to marry and constitutes discrimination. One case is that of British citizen Rashida Chapti, 54, and husband Vali Chapti, 57, who wants to join her in the UK.
They have been married for 37 years and have six children together. Mr Chapti is an Indian national and does not speak, read or write English.
Mrs Chapti has reportedly been travelling between India and Leicester for around 15 years but has now applied for her husband to join her.
The immigration rules require Mr Chapti to show a basic knowledge of English before he can be given permission to stay. At the High Court in Birmingham yesterday, Manjit Gill QC, for the couple, said the requirement was a breach of their human rights.
It contravened several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.
He said: “The rule is particularly striking in that it prevents mere residence even though one of the parties is fully entitled to live in this country.”
Home Secretary Theresa May said last year: “It is a privilege to come to the UK and that is why I am committed to raising the bar for migrants.”