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22 May 2020

How to apply for leave to remain if you are experiencing domestic violence

5 mins

If you experience domestic violence or abuse when residing in the UK under a VISA, our Immigration team explains the steps you can take to remove yourself from the situation.

What is domestic abuse?

The Home Office defines domestic abuse as: “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.This can encompass, but is not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.Domestic abuse also includes culturally specific forms of abuse including, but not limited to, forced marriage, honour-based violence, dowry-related abuse and trans-national marriage abandonment”.

I am a victim of domestic abuse in the UK, what can I do?

If you meet the requirements, you can apply first of all for temporary leave to remain under the Domestic Violence Concession (see below).  You can then apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residency) in the UK

Does my immigration status matter?

Yes. You can only apply on this route if your last grant of leave to remain was as a partner of a British citizen, settled person, or a refugee, and any subsequent grants of leave must have been leave under the DDV concession or granted under the DVILR provisions (see below).

I have split up from my partner due to domestic abuse but I have nowhere to live and I have  no money or benefits. Is there anything that can be done about this?

Yes, you could apply for leave under the domestic violence concession (DDV Concession). You should not apply unless you are planning to submit an application for indefinite leave as a victim of domestic abuse (see below). There is no Home Office fee for this application. If you are granted leave under the concession, that grant will cancel and replace any current leave to remain you have. You would be issued with 3 months’ leave to remain with no restriction on claiming public funds, and during that time you must prepare and submit your application for indefinite leave.

What are the requirements I need to meet to be granted indefinite leave as a victim of domestic abuse?

Broadly, you need to show that you are in the UK, that you had leave to remain as a partner,that you meet the suitability requirements, and that your relationship with your partner has permanently broken down due to domestic abuse.

What evidence do I need in support of the application?

You will need your passport unless there is a good reason outside your control as to why you do not have it. You should keep all evidence of your shared address in the UK with your ex-partner. You should consider and keep or obtain any evidence you have that you have been subject to domestic abuse.

I am hoping that our separation is temporary, and my partner and I can resume our relationship. Can I still apply?

No. You have to intend your separation to be permanent to meet the requirements.

My ex-partner who inflicted domestic violence on me is an EU national exercising Treaty Rights. Can I apply?

No. Partners of EU nationals would need to apply for retained rights under EU law. Retained rights can only apply to direct family members which are defined as a spouse or civil partner (cohabiting partners are not included in the definition). It may  be possible for you to submit an application on the basis of your human rights.

What if I have criminal convictions?

You must meet specific suitability requirements, and any criminal convictions could mean that your application is refused, or that you are granted limited leave rather than indefinite leave. This is something you should discuss with your solicitor as all convictions must be disclosed on the application.

Can I apply from abroad?

The requirements state that you have to be in the UK to make an application and that your previous grant of leave to remain should be as a partner, as set out above. However, depending on your circumstances, it may still be possible for you to return to the UK and be granted indefinite leave. You should talk to a solicitor before you make an application for entry clearance if you would like to later apply for indefinite leave as a victim of domestic abuse.

What is the process to submit an application?

Applications are submitted online. You then enroll your biometrics at a post office and submit your supporting documents to the Home Office.

How much does the application cost?

The application fee is currently £2,389. You do not have to pay the Immigration Health surcharge but you will have to pay £19.20 to enroll your biometrics. If you have any dependents, the fee will increase by £2,408.20 (£2,389+£19.20) per dependent. It is possible to obtain a fee waiver in specific circumstances.

If my application is refused, what can I do?

If your application is refused, there is no right of appeal unless you have made a human rights claim. Whether you have made a human rights claim will depend on your specific circumstances. Where there is no right of appeal, you can apply for an administrative review, and another caseworker at the Home Office will review the decision to refuse your application.

If you do have any more questions or need help, please contact the team. 

How can we help you?

We are here to help. If you have any questions for us, please get in touch below.