The Immigration Rules protect the rights of those who have leave to enter or remain as a ‘partner’ and whose relationship has broken down due to domestic violence.
The current government-approved definition of ‘Domestic violence’ includes:
"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, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.
Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim."
If you are thinking of making an application on this basis, it is really important to get legal advice to understand (i) whether you are in an eligible category, (ii) whether this is the most appropriate application for you and (iii) how best to present the application.
If you are in financial difficulty after the breakdown of the relationship, we can also advise you about making an application for the ‘Destitute Domestic Violence Concession’ (DDV) which gives you a short period of leave with access to public funds while you prepare your application for indefinite leave to remain. Again, we encourage you to get legal advice before making this application as moving on to the DDV concession will limit your options of other types of leave (which is particularly relevant for those with British children).
The right of appeal for those refused under the Domestic Violence rules is complicated. At present, a refusal only attracts a right of ‘administrative review’ (internal Home Office review) unless clear human rights grounds have been raised in the application. It is therefore important to ensure that any application clearly raises all relevant grounds, including any human rights issues.
Experiencing domestic violence is always distressing and very frightening. When your immigration status is uncertain and is dependent on the person who is abusing you, it is even harder to take the steps you need to try and resolve the situation. Your partner may be threatening that you will be ‘reported to the police’ or ‘forced to the leave the country’ or that your children will be taken away from you.
Our specialist team will support you through the process of making the right application and regularising your stay. If you are not eligible for Legal Aid funding, we will offer you an affordable fixed fee.
If you are a European national or are currently in the UK as the partner of a European national and your relationship has broken down due to domestic violence, we may also be able to assist you under Legal Aid funding.