Domestic Violence and Immigration Law
Rules for spouse visa:
Anyone who accompanies a partner on a spouse or partner visa will be given leave to stay lawfully in the UK for 30 or 33 months known as the ‘Probationary Period’. This should be renewed for a further 30 months. After a period of 5 years with a spouse visa, a person can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK.
Domestic Violence Rule:
If you are a victim of domestic abuse by the sponsor, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK under the Immigration rules.
You can apply for ILR if the following conditions are satisfied:
- You have or had leave to remain in the UK as a spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of a British citizen; and,
- There is evidence that your relationship broke down permanently during the probationary period because of Domestic Violence; and,
- You fall under the suitability criteria
Suitability and criminality criteria:
For the courts to consider an application for ILR based on the domestic violence rule, the applicant should be free of unspent criminal convictions and must be cooperative and not of bad character. Any false information or omission of relevant information will be weighed against the applicant for assessment of character.
Only physically abusive behaviour?
Domestic abuse goes beyond just physical abuse. In the UK, domestic abuse includes coercive control, economic abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, stalking and harassment. The definition of domestic violence also extends to acts such as honour violence and female genital mutilation (FGM).
Even if a person does not have current leave to remain in the UK as a spouse, civil partner or partner due to the violence they have faced, they can still apply for ILR in the UK. The reason for overstaying should be mentioned clearly in the supporting letter.
Due to the urgent nature of such applications, the Home Office aims to deal with applications under domestic violence rule within 20 working days. If an application is successful, the claimant will be given indefinite leave to remain in the UK and can go on to apply for British citizenship in future when they meet the requisite criteria.
Solicitors at Shawstone Associates have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in both Immigration and Family law and are able to assist effectively with all Immigration and Family matters. Please contact us to discuss any legal queries in confidence with one of our solicitors.
● Crown Prosecution Service Domestic abuse | The Crown Prosecution Service (cps.gov.uk)
● Crime Survey for England and Wales (2020)
● Appendix FM Immigration Rules, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-fm-family-members
● Domestic Violence and Immigration Law: The domestic violence rule, Rights of Women organisation
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