Cancellation of a spouse visa - staying in the UK after separation
It is a difficult enough decision to end a relationship but if your ability to stay in the UK rests on your relationship and your spouse visa it can be tempting to stay with your partner, even if you have been the victim of domestic violence. If you are in that position it is crucial that you understand your family and Immigration law options so that you can make the best choices for you and your family.
The fact that you entered the UK on a spouse visa doesn’t mean that there are no other ways for you to remain in the UK if your relationship with your husband or wife breaks down and your spouse visa is cancelled. If you are in the UK on a spouse visa and are separating from your partner you need expert legal advice from spouse visa solicitors with both family and Immigration law expertise.
Call us on 0203 959 9123 for help or complete the online enquiry form.
It is hard to cope with the double blow of a separation from your partner and worries about being forced to leave the UK. That’s why many people are reluctant to take legal advice, fearing the worst. However, Immigration solicitors say it is always best to understand your legal position. That way you can make informed choices.
If you are a non-EEA national and you're in the UK as a dependant on a spouse visa or on a partner visa then if your relationship ends your visa status could change as a result of your separation or divorce. You will need to:
• Take legal advice – you potentially need family law advice as well as specialist advice from spouse visa solicitors; and
• Inform the Home Office about your separation. If you do not tell the Home Office and they find out through other means (such as through a government agency) then this could affect your Immigration record and any future Immigration applications you make, including an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain; and
• Make the appropriate visa or Indefinite Leave to Remain application – the type of Immigration application you can make will depend on your personal circumstances so that is why you need to speak to spouse visa solicitors before making any decisions.
As the reason you were granted entry clearance to the UK was your relationship with your spouse or partner when the Home Office learns of the termination of the relationship with your partner they are likely to cancel your UK spouse visa.
Often if you are in the UK on a spouse visa you are under the impression that your spouse has the power to cancel your UK spouse visa. That isn’t right. Only a Home Office official can cancel your spouse visa. However, your spouse could notify the Home Office that your relationship is at an end and that is likely to lead to the curtailment of your spouse visa. That’s why if you are in the UK on a spouse visa it is important to get legal advice quickly so you can inform the Home Office about your separation but, at the same time, through taking legal advice you know your family law legal rights and Immigration options.
If the Home Office decide to stop your spouse visa as a result of your separation or divorce then they will send you what is referred to as a ‘curtailment letter’ telling you that your spouse visa has been cancelled. Instead of your spouse visa continuing until its original expiry date the Home Office will give you an earlier expiry date. This is normally about sixty days. That means you should have about two months to either leave the UK or make an Immigration application to the Home Office so you continue to have entry clearance after the expiry of your spouse visa.
As soon as you receive a curtailment letter you should take legal advice as you and your spouse visa solicitors will need time to consider your various Immigration options and submit an Immigration application if you want to remain in the UK.
If your relationship has broken down but you have not received a curtailment letter from the Home Office you should take legal advice before leaving the UK on any pre-arranged holiday or overseas work trip.
There are a variety of different types of Immigration application that you can potentially make to ensure that you can lawfully stay in the UK after a separation or divorce from your partner and if your spouse visa or partner visa Immigration status is lost because of the relationship breakdown. They are:
In some cases you may have a choice of more than one route so it is sensible to take legal advice to look at the best option for you and the evidence you will need to successfully secure continued entry clearance in the UK.
If you have children with your spouse or partner (who is a British citizen or who has Settled Status in the UK) then your Immigration options after a relationship breakdown may include applying for UK settlement because of your children. This is referred to as ‘the parent route’.
To qualify for settlement under the parent route you will need to meet Home Office conditions and should take legal advice from spouse visa solicitors on whether you qualify to settle in the UK under the parent route.
If you are in the UK on a spouse visa or partner visa you may be able to switch to a work visa (referred to as a Tier 2 (General) visa) and then use the work visa as a route to settlement in the UK.
Securing a work visa will depend on the nature of your work or skills. For example, if you are a nurse or you are in another line of work that is on the UK Shortage Occupation List you may be able to secure a Tier 2 (General) visa. Alternatively, you may be able to get your employer to sponsor you under a Certificate of Sponsorship to secure a work visa.
You may be eligible to apply to stay in the UK after a separation or divorce by applying to the Home Office under the ‘private life’ route. For example, you may be able to apply to settle in the UK if you have been living in the UK for at least twenty years.
Potentially if you separate from your partner you could try to claim Asylum in the UK on the basis that you say that you cannot return to your home country. Any claim that you fear persecution and therefore need Asylum in the UK as a refugee would be carefully investigated by the Home Office who would require supporting information.
If you experienced domestic violence during your relationship with your spouse or partner and the domestic violence was the reason for the relationship breakdown you may be able to apply for leave to remain because of the domestic violence you have experienced.
The Home Office has produced very detailed guidelines on how to determine applications for leave to remain in the UK as a result of domestic violence.
Whatever the reasons for your relationship breakdown, the best advice is not to wait until you receive a curtailment letter from the Home Office cutting short the length of your UK spouse visa before getting advice. If you have waited because of the family situation you are in then it is not too late to get advice on your family and Immigration options.
Our top Immigration solicitors and lawyers are here to assist you.
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