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Obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain After Domestic Violence

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Many people don’t like to talk about domestic violence. However, the reality is that domestic violence happens to both men and women on a daily basis throughout the UK and many stay silent because they think that is their only choice if they want to stay in the UK on a spouse visa. Immigration solicitors say that although the law changed in 2002, many victims of domestic violence don’t realise that if they are in the UK on a spouse visa and experience domestic abuse, they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain so they don’t have to choose between staying in a violent or abusive relationship and leaving the UK.

Indefinite Leave to Remain solicitors

London based OTS Solicitors specialise in Immigration law and family law and so are experts in securing Indefinite Leave to Remain for victims of domestic violence who are in the UK on a spouse visa. If you are going through a separation or divorce and you are worried about how this will affect your spouse visa call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 to discuss your best Immigration options or compete our online enquiry form.

Applying for ILR under the domestic violence rule

The Immigration Rules say that if you are living in the UK under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain if your relationship ends because of domestic violence.

Many victims of domestic violence don’t see themselves as either victims or entitled to legal protection because they assume that their spouse’s behaviour isn’t ‘violent enough’ to meet the Immigration Rules on domestic violence and ILR applications.

The Home Office guidance on the definition of domestic violence says that domestic violence is:

‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged sixteen or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality’.

The definition of domestic violence includes violence of any description as well as abuse that is psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional. The domestic violence could, for example, be controlling behaviour or threats of violence or could be abuse from the in-laws if you are living with them.

If you are in the UK on a spouse visa and are separated from your spouse, you can apply to the Home Office using form SET (DV) to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain.

To be eligible to apply for ILR on the domestic violence rule you need to:

• Be in the UK on a spouse visa or partner visa as the spouse or partner of a British citizen or someone with Settled Status (If you are in the UK on a fiancée visa then you will not be eligible). You can still apply if your spouse visa or partner visa has expired because your spouse or partner refused to let you apply to extend the visa

• Have made a valid ILR application and meet the general suitability criteria that applies to any applicant for ILR (for example not having been convicted of significant criminal offences or other reasons justifying the refusal of ILR).

Waiving the Home Office ILR domestic violence rule fee

If you apply for leave to remain in the UK under the domestic violence rule the Home Office ILR fee is just the same as any other Indefinite Leave to Remain application. The Home Office ILR fee currently amounts to £2,389. However, if you are applying for ILR because you are leaving an abusive relationship you can apply to waive the Home Office fee by submitting your ILR application and, at the same time, asking the Home Office to waive their fee through providing evidence that you:

• Do not have adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it or

• You have adequate accommodation or the means to obtain it but you can't meet your other essential living needs.

If you apply for a fee waiver ideally you need to provide evidence of your financial circumstances (such as bank statements or wage slips or tenancy agreement although the Home Office may accept that you don’t have much paperwork if you have had to flee the family home and are staying temporarily with friends or in a refuge.

Deciding an application for ILR under the domestic violence rule

An application for Indefinite Leave to Remain made under the domestic violence rule is decided on a discretionary basis by the Home Office. Each ILR application case is considered taking into account the available evidence of domestic violence. How Home Office officials should assess and consider evidence of domestic violence is subject to detailed Home Office guidance and is the subject of a separate blog.

Interim domestic violence and Immigration help

If you are leaving an abusive relationship with a spouse or partner and you have been living in the UK on a spouse or partner visa you may not have the money or access to friends and family to help yourself get out of the relationship or to be in a position to make an immediate application for ILR under the domestic violence rule.

If you are in that situation then you can apply for short term Immigration leave under the destitute domestic violence concession. To qualify to use this Home Office concession you need to be able to show that you:

• Are in the UK on a spouse visa or partner visa – if a visa has expired as your spouse or partner refused to agree to a spouse visa extension application then you can still apply

• Were in a relationship that has broken down because of domestic violence

• Need access to public funds to leave the relationship

• Plan to apply for leave to remain under the domestic violence rule.

If you are granted leave under the domestic violence concession this means you will:

• Be granted three months leave to remain in the UK

• Access to public funds during those three months.

If you are granted leave this is just temporary to give you the time and access to public funds to be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

ILR applications and domestic violence statistics

Immigration solicitors https://www.otssolicitors.co.uk/immigration carefully look at the national statistics and success rates of ILR applications under the domestic violence rule and note that statistically ILR refusal rates are high. However, those domestic violence ILR refusal statistics and ILR refusal rates include applications where legal advice hasn’t been taken or non-specialist advisors have been used.

If you want to stand the best chance of successfully securing Indefinite Leave to Remain under the domestic violence rule it is best to use ILR solicitors with family law expertise who not only understand and follow the detailed Home Office guidance on ILR applications under the domestic violence rule but, with family law expertise, can also help you secure family law injunction orders and the evidence you need to support your ILR application.

Getting your ILR domestic violence application right is crucial because since 2015, if you have an ILR application under the domestic violence rule refused, you don’t have a right of appeal against the decision (unless you can appeal on human rights grounds). You can apply for an administrative review but that is more limited than an appeal. That is why Indefinite Leave to Remain solicitors say it is vital to get expert advice on your ILR application and on the best evidence to help secure ILR under the domestic violence rule and to make sure that your ILR application is drafted to include a Human Rights claim.

Indefinite Leave to Remain solicitors

London based OTS Solicitors are experts in Immigration law, Indefinite Leave to Remain after Spouse Visas and family law. Our friendly and approachable solicitors can discuss the impact of a separation or divorce on your spouse visa and advise you on the best Immigration https://www.otssolicitors.co.uk/immigration and family law options. Call the UK ILR solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.

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