Staying in the UK as a victim of Domestic Abuse
John Nguyen |

Staying in the UK as a victim of Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence is a serious infringement of someone’s rights. If you are currently living in the UK as a spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of a British citizen or person settled in the UK and your relationship has broken down due to domestic violence, you might be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. EP Legal can advise on how you can remain in the UK in your own right.

Definition of domestic violence and abuse

It is defined that “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality”.

The violence can include, but is not limited to physical, psychological, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse. Also, the controlling behaviour does not need to come from the victim’s partner. It can also come from, for example, a member of the partner’s family against whom the partner offers no protection.

Who can apply?

Under the domestic violence provisions of Appendix FM, this applies to the applicants (regardless of gender and sexuality), who have previously been granted leave to enter or remain as the spouse, civil partner or unmarried or same-sex partner (even if their visa expired) of:

  • a British citizen,
  • a settled person or
  • a member of HM Forces who has served for at least 4 years.

The domestic violence provisions of Appendix FM do not apply if you are the spouse or partner of a sponsor who only has limited leave to enter or remain in the UK; fiancées or proposed civil partners; those in the UK on other types of leave and those aged under 18, although the definition of domestic violence refers to people aged 16 or over, an individual must be 18 years or over to qualify for leave as a partner.

The Home Office will allow those mentioned above to stay in the country permanently if the relationship breaks down because of domestic violence.

A victim of domestic violence who is working may be able to escape the situation by moving elsewhere and supporting themselves while making an application to stay in the UK.

Those without the means to do this are likely to flee to a refuge to escape the family home. After a short while, it will become necessary to apply for benefits (“public funds”) to provide support and accommodation. The Home Office has recognised that those in this situation do not have access to public funds and may become destitute.

As a result, it is possible to apply for short-term leave under the destitute domestic violence concession. Many migrants who are victims of domestic violence will apply for this concession as a first step.

The concession applies only to those who:

  • have been granted leave to remain as a partner
  • if the relationship has broken down as a result of domestic violence
  • they are destitute and need access to public funds to leave the relationship and
  • intend to apply for leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence.

If successful, the applicant will be granted 3 months leave to remain in the UK with access to public funds. However, this does not imply or guarantee that a subsequent application for indefinite leave to remain will be granted.

Requirements

The applicant must:

  • be in the UK (If you have valid leave but are not physically present in the UK will not be able to apply for leave to remain under this rule)
  • have made a valid application
  • not fall for refusal under the suitability requirements for indefinite leave to remain
  • meet the eligibility requirements (only those who have had leave to remain as the partner of a British citizen or a settled person, or those previously granted 30 months leave to remain under the domestic violence rule, are eligible to apply).
  • meet the suitability requirements (those, who involve in criminality and bad character, providing false information and owing money to the Home Office or NHS will not qualify. Where an applicant otherwise meets the rules but has been sentenced to imprisonment for less than 12 months in the last seven years, or has had a non-custodial sentence or out of court disposal in the last two years, rather than an outright refusal, the applicant will be granted 30 months leave to remain.

Evidence of being a victim of domestic violence/abuse

To prove that the relationship has broken down as a result of domestic violence, the victim will need to show evidence of previous abuse having been notified to the relevant authorities.

Evidence submitted can include a criminal conviction for domestic violence, police caution, a final non-molestation or occupation order in civil court, a charging decision for domestic violence, prohibited steps orders and contact orders, letter/statement from an independent witness, arrest, police report of attendance at domestic violence incident, medical report from UK hospital or GP.

Eligibility of a fee waiver

The fee for an application under the domestic violence rules is the same as for all other indefinite leave to remain applications, £2,389.

Unlike other categories of indefinite leave applicants can qualify for a fee waiver if they can show that:

  • they do not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it, or
  • they have adequate accommodation or the means to obtain it but cannot meet their other essential living needs.

The applicant will be expected to provide evidence in the form of tenancy agreements, pay slips, utility bills, bank statements, receipts of support from a local council or a refuge.

For further information please contact EP Legal at: office@eplegal.uk or call: 0121 778 1188