Integration tests for migrants initially started as language tests. Many countries across the world that have a large migrant intake (mostly "Western" countries) introduced these in 2004-2005. According to the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), by 2006, 11 out of 26 EU states had introduced tests for incoming migrants. This occurred against the backdrop of a changing political situation in the aftermath of 9/11, the murder of Theo van Gogh in Holland, and the Madrid and London terrorist attacks in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
Today, the majority of European states use integration tests for certain categories of migrants, and other states have begun making the tests more complicated by broadening them to include not only language, but also knowledge of the state's history and political system.
Migration scholars view integration tests as "filters" that regulate the entry of certain people into a country and the access that these people have to that country's resources. Passing this test is usually a prerequisite for gaining work permits in that country, or for obtaining citizenship. These tests can vary by length, difficulty levels, types of questions, and whether these questions are available for viewing in advance before the test.
Some migration scholars argue that tests are helpful for gauging the integration potential of a migrant, and that these tests are more objective than interviews conducted face-to-face by state employees who may have their own prejudices. On the other hand, these tests are fiercely criticised by some for the "favouritism" they institutionalise in relation to certain categories of "more attractive" immigrants, since people's backgrounds can make these tests either more or less difficult for them to pass.
In 2013, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly published the report "Integration tests: helping or hindering integration?", which stated that many of the tests that are currently in place are too strict. The report listed several problems in relation to the test, like the fact that illiterate family members can have trouble attaining family reunification due to the test, and that migrants may not have enough money to undergo sufficient preparation courses to take the test. The report proposes to simplify existing language tests and to use not only test scores as an indicator, but also to note migrants' efforts, to help migrants prepare for the test and to retake it if they fail. The experts conclude that integration tests should help migrants integrate, but should not be used as punishments for those who fail to meet the minimum score.