If your relationship breaks down, you must consider whether you need to make a new immigration application so that you can remain in the UK.
There is one specific provision in the Immigration Rules for victims of domestic violence, but you might also be eligible under other parts of the Rules. Other options might be available if you are an EEA national or family member.
If your ex-partner informs the Home Office that your relationship has ended, the Home Office might “curtail” your leave to remain so that you have less time left. The Home Office will usually tell you about this by writing to you at your last known address. If you have changed your address, it is possible for your leave to expire without your knowing it.
You may also have an obligation to inform the Home Office yourself about a change of address, or about the breakdown of your relationship, under the Immigration (Biometric Registration) Regulations 2008: https://www.gov.uk/change-circumstances-visa-brp
If your leave is curtailed you must make sure that you make your next application to remain in the UK before the new expiry date.
Appendix FM: Section DVILR
If you have leave to remain as the partner of a British citizen or settled person, then you can apply for indefinite leave to remain after a relationship breakdown, if your relationship with your sponsor has broken down due to domestic violence (Section DVILR of Appendix FM). The application form is online:
You will need to provide evidence of the domestic abuse you have suffered, and show that this was the cause of the relationship breakdown.
Note that this category is only available if it is the relationship with your sponsor that has ended due to domestic violence. If you are affected by domestic abuse in a different relationship, or if your sponsor only has limited leave themselves (for example a work visa), then you cannot use this route.
The Home Office’s guidance for caseworkers provides some information about the kinds of evidence that they consider acceptable (graded as “conclusive”, “strong”, “moderate” and “weak”). For example, criminal conviction of an abusive partner is “conclusive”, whereas a statement by you as the applicant is “weak”.
You might also be able to provide evidence of contact with a support group or charity; medical evidence from your GP or hospital; statements from people who have witnessed the abuse, or police records of calls or complaints you have made.
It can be extremely difficult to produce detailed evidence if you have fled an abusive relationship. If you are waiting for evidence but do not yet have it, you should still make your application in time, and inform the Home Office about the evidence that is coming. You can submit more evidence later in the process.
A human rights application
The Home Office does not automatically consider an application under Section DVILR to be a “human rights application”.
This is important, because you can only appeal to the Tribunal against the refusal of a human rights or protection (asylum) application.
You should state clearly in your application why you think that it should be treated as a human rights application. This might be because you have a child living with you in the UK, or because you have lived in the UK for a long time. You should provide evidence of this with your application.
Funding: fee waiver
The application fee is £2,389.00 plus biometric charges. If you cannot afford this you can say so on the application form. You will normally have to provide information and evidence about your finances to show that you are destitute, or you would be destitute if you paid the fee.
Funding: public funds
You can apply to the Home Office for access to public funds while your application is being processed. There is a special form for this application for people using the DVILR route. You need to complete the form and send it to the Home Office.
Read more about public funds in my blog post about the No Recourse to Public Funds condition.
If the application is refused
If your application is refused, then the Home Office might say that you do not have a right of appeal because yours is not a human rights application.
In some cases you might be able to appeal to the Tribunal anyway, and argue that your application is clearly a “human rights” application so that the Tribunal can deal with your case. In other cases, you might need to use the Judicial Review process to argue that you have made a human rights application. This is a complex area of law, and there are strict deadlines for applying to the courts, so you should seek legal advice if you can.
Not eligible for DVILR
If you are not eligible to use the DVILR route (for example, if your immigration status is tied to a partner who has limited leave to remain; or if your partner is not the person you were granted leave to remain with), then you might need to apply in a different category, or on the basis of your private or family life in the UK outside the Immigration Rules.
You might be able to apply for leave to remain under the following categories of the Immigration Rules:
- Parent of a British citizen child, or who has lived in the UK for at least 7 years and it would not be reasonable for the child to leave the UK (Appendix FM)
- Private life, if you have lived in the UK for at least 20 years; or if you are aged 18 – 25 and you have lived in the UK for at least half your life; or if there would be “very significant obstacles” to your reintegration in your home country (paragraph 276ADE of the Immigration Rules)
- Long residence, if you have had leave to remain continuously in the UK for 10 years (paragraph 276A1 or 276B of the Immigration Rules)
If you do not meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules, you might still be able to apply outside the Rules on the basis of your individual circumstances.
Contact me to discuss your application.
Tel: 07752 722 292