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If you are going through a divorce while living in the UK with a Spouse Visa, you may be worried about retaining legal residency after the Spouse Visa curtailment. It is important to assess your options for staying in the UK after a divorce. It is also highly recommended that you seek the help of an immigration lawyer, who can help you find the right visa to remain in the UK.
So what happens to your Spouse Visa after a divorce? According to UK law, the dependent party will no longer be eligible to live in the UK as their leave is reliant on their relationship with the UK sponsor. However, there are a number of options which may be available to you in order for you to stay.
Our dedicated immigration lawyers can help you if you are experiencing a Spouse Visa curtailment. There is a short timeframe in which you must make a decision if you want to remain in the UK if a Spouse Visa is curtailed after a divorce. Our lawyers are based around the country and can meet with you immediately to discuss your different options. We will work with you to assess your best visa options, quickly and comprehensively. Get in touch with IAS on 0333 363 8577 or use our online enquiry form to discuss your options for staying in the UK after a divorce.
A Spouse or Marriage Visa allows the partner of a person with settled status in the UK to immigrate to the UK to join their spouse.
With a Spouse Visa, the UK spouse acts as the sponsor for the non-EEA spouse This visa requires the couple to be in a genuine relationship – a requirement strictly assessed by the Home Office. There must also be proof that the UK spouse has a minimum income of £18,600 in order to show that the couple will not be relying on public funds during their time in the country.
The initial period you can come to the UK on a Marriage Visa is 30 months. After this, you will be required to apply for a Spouse Visa extension. The extension of a Spouse Visa is dependent on both parties still living together and providing proof of a continuous relationship.
If you are in the UK on a Spouse Visa, divorce proceedings will change your immigration status. In the UK, over 40% of marriages end in divorce and this figure is on the rise every year. There are many reasons a judge will grant a married couple a divorce including:
Both parties must agree to the divorce, but after the couple has been living apart for longer than five years then one person may petition the court for a divorce without the partner’s consent.
If you are in the UK on a Spouse Visa and your marriage comes to an end, you will be subject to a Spouse Visa curtailment and your visa will be cancelled. Although this will be effective immediately, the Home Office will usually allow you a short period of time to make arrangements for leaving or remaining in the UK. You must make the Home Office aware as early as possible that your marriage has ended.
Informing the Home Office of this fact almost immediately will work in your favour for any future visa applications. When writing to the Home Office you need to include the names, birth dates, addresses, passport and Home Office numbers of both yourself and your ex-partner along with details of what is going to happen to any dependent children thereafter. After this, you will need to either leave the country or look into alternate paths to staying in the UK.
Overstaying on a cancelled Spouse Visa can have dire consequences in the long run, including being convicted of immigration fraud, immediate deportation and being barred from reapplying to the UK.
If you are in the UK on a Spouse Visa, divorce doesn’t have to mean uprooting your life and a Work Visa could be the key to continuing your life in the UK. However, this route is only possible if you make the application for a Tier 2 Work Visa from outside the UK. If you are already working, you may be able to get your employer to sponsor your visa to allow you to stay. This will depend on whether or not they hold a Sponsorship Licence and can provide a Certificate of Sponsorship. However, you will only be able to do this by negotiating with your current employer, so that you can leave the UK and apply from there. If this is the case, the employer will need to go through the Resident Labour Market Test (unless your profession is in shortage in the UK).
In the UK, there are over 29,000 businesses currently in possession of a Sponsorship Licence which allows them to employ a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa holder. In order to be eligible for this visa, you will need to be earning £30,000 and prove that you have savings to support yourself. Certain jobs are exempt from this income requirement, such as nursing.
The Home Office is aware of the effects a divorce can have on the children affected, this problem is only made worse if one parent is forced to leave the country.
You may be eligible to apply for a Family Visa on the basis that you are a parent or primary carer of a child that is either a British Citizen or a settled person. You may apply if you have sole or shared parental responsibility for the child.
You do not need to be in a relationship or married to your child’s other parent in order to be eligible for this visa. You do need to prove you play an active part of your child’s life in order to stay in the UK as a parent. This can be established in a multitude of ways including a letter from your child’s school stating you attend the child’s parent’s evenings and/or are known to the school.
There is no minimum income requirement for parent visas but you do need to prove that you can live in the UK without needing access to public funds. This visa lasts the standard 30 months after which it can be extended assuming the child is not above the age of 18.
Those who have been in the country for a long period of time are able to apply to settle in the UK. The period is very strict, you must have been in the UK for at least ten years, this marked from when you arrived in the UK with a visa to the time of the cancellation of your Spouse Visa.
There are some significant stipulations when applying for long-term residency in the UK. For example, ten years of residency is reliant on you being in the country for the majority of that time. This means you cannot leave the country for longer than three months at a time and cannot leave the country for longer than 540 days in total.
Restrictions like the English Language Test and the Life in the UK test are still in place for long-term residents and any time spent in prison, young offenders or secure hospital does not count towards your continued residences in the UK. However, if you are able to apply for the long-term residences then this should be your first port of call. Settled status means you are no longer at the mercy of continuous visa applications and ever-changing circumstances over the course of your time in the UK.
Your legal residency in the UK should not be determined at the hands of your abuser. If you are currently on a Spouse Visa experiencing violence in your relationship and you want a divorce, you are legally entitled to apply to settle in the UK regardless of how long the marriage lasts.
Domestic abuse is recognised as psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse. You will be asked to provide proof of the abuse. This can be, for example, court documents if you were granted a domestic violence protection order, a domestic violence protection notice or medical proof of domestic violence.
The breakdown of the relationship during the probationary period needs to be set out in a letter to the Home Office outlining your case for settled status. It is possible to apply something called a ‘Concessions for Victims of Domestic Violence’. This route allows you to stay in the UK for three months while you apply for settled status.
One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, do not let immigration fears stop you from getting help. The threat of Spouse Visa curtailment should not be used against you in a relationship.
Divorces are a very tense time in the lives of everyone involved. Assessing your options early can save you many stressful hours in the long run.
The lawyers at IAS are well versed in many different types of visa application, including those following a divorce. We will be able to put you on the right path to staying in the UK after your divorce.
Our services include:
Get in touch on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to speak with one of our expert immigration consultants about your options for staying in the UK after a divorce.
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