UK Family Visas: relationship breakdown

The Home Office caused a bit of a stir recently by publishing forms so that family visa sponsors can report that their relationship has ended.

These forms used to be sent out on an ad hoc basis to sponsors who contacted the Home Office of their own volition: the sponsor is asked to sign a declaration that their relationship is over, and that they no longer intend to live with the visa-holder.

There are two things to note about the availability of this form.

The first is that when people have difficulty in their relationship, the background knowledge that one person has power over the other’s future life in the UK adds an extra layer of anxiety. It is often the case that people who have relationship difficulties separate for a time, then get back together. Inducing people to formalise things by reporting a temporary separation to a government department can have the effect of making that separation permanent.

The second, as several commentators have noted, is that publishing and publicising these forms directly on the Home Office website can make it easier for abusers to bully their family members: they can produce an official-looking form and threaten to have their partner “sent home”.

Many visa-holders do not know that they might have a right to stay in the UK even if their sponsor reports to the Home Office. It is sadly quite common for me to meet people who stayed in an abusive relationship because they feared that they would be forced to leave their children in the UK if they left.

Everyone’s relationship can hit a rocky patch: if you are a migrant the Home Office has chosen to make that rocky patch a bit more mountainous.

If you are worried about your immigration status because your relationship has ended, please contact me for advice.


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