As a victim of domestic violence you may be worried about your immigration status if you’re in the UK on limited leave to remain as spouse or unmarried partner of a British citizen or someone settled in the UK.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person in a domestic context against another, such as in marriage or cohabitation. It can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships and can take a number of forms including physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse that results in disfigurement or death.
Migrants who have come to the UK to live with their partners can be particularly vulnerable when suffering domestic violence. For the first five years after making a spouse visa application, a foreign partner does not have permanent status in the UK and to be able to continue his life in the UK he must always be able to prove through his partner that their relationship is subsisting until he becomes a permanent residence.
During these first years, victims of domestic violence can feel trapped and afraid that if they leave the abusive relationship or report domestic violence, they will lose their immigration status and have to leave the country. They often get blackmailed by the abusive partners for their temporary immigration status in the country.
Fortunately, migrant partners who need to leave an abusive relationship do have an option without losing their right to stay in the UK. The Immigration Rules state that a victim of domestic violence can apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence) in the UK during the five year probationary period and does not have to wait the full five years if he can provide the evidence that:
♠ he or she was lawfully admitted to the UK as a partner of someone present and settled in the UK;
♠ the relationship existed at the time the applicant was granted limited leave to remain in the UK;
♠ he or she is no longer living with their partner;
♠ the relationship ended as a result of domestic violence.
Settlement in the UK may still be possible if they perpetrator of domestic violence is not your partner but her family member. You will have to show that the violence caused the breakdown of the relationship or that your partner did nothing to prevent the abuse.
Evidence that domestic violence occurred can come in many forms. The best evidence however is a court conviction, police caution or a non-molestation order issued against your partner. If this evidence does not exist, other documentation can be relied upon such as :
♠ a medical report from a doctor confirming injuries consistent with domestic violence;
♠ a letter from a GP confirming injuries consistent with domestic violence;
♠ a police report showing attendance at your home on a domestic violence call;
♠ letters from a social services department or domestic violence support centre confirming their involvement in connection with domestic violence.
In all cases the application for indefinite leave to remain based on incidents of domestic violence should be accompanied by evidence. Indefinite leave to remain status allows you to work, to be self-employed or, if eligible, to claim benefits.
If you have suffered domestic violence, it is important that you ask for help and report the violence rather than suffer in silence.
You should seek competent legal advice to see if you qualify for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence. Citizen Immigration Lawyers in London and in Birmingham offer free initial legal advice to victims of domestic violence.
Destitution Domestic Violence Concession
The Destitution Domestic Violence (DDV) Concession is available to the victims of domestic violence. You are able to notify the Home Office that you need access to public funds, whilst you make your application for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic abuse.
For this concession you will need to meet the following criteria:
♠ you are in the UK as a spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner of a British Citizen or someone present and settled in the UK;
♠ that relationship has broken down due to domestic violence;
♠ you do not have the means to maintain and accommodate yourself, and therefore need financial help;
If Home Office considers that the claimant is in a position to apply for assistance, three months limited leave will be given to enable them to stay in the UK with access to benefits;
You can apply for this concession by completing the application here, however you should get legal advice before doing so.