Those who are in the UK under the terms of a UK Spouse Visa are often very concerned as to what might happen if they get a divorce from their partner.
A report from the government found that, in 2019, 42% of marriages end in divorce and that 60% of marriages are expected to end in divorce by the 20th wedding anniversary. These figures are concerning for anyone who believes that they are reliant on their partner’s status if they want to stay in the country.
A spouse visa and divorce proceedings do not seem like they would be a good combination for you being able to stay in the UK, but there is in fact a few ways in which you can keep your life here after you have separated.
What your next options are
If you have gone through a divorce, you will likely be confused as to what the next steps are and what you should do in order to put you in the best possible position. It will very much depend on your individual circumstances as to what the best course of action is. Some options might include:
- Leaving the UK and then re-applying for a different visa.
This might be a good option if you have more eligibility for another visa option on your own professional merit. For instance, you might have been in the UK and married to your spouse for long enough that you have started a career of your own. This would mean that the Home Office would be more likely to accept you into the country on the basis that you are a valuable asset to the economy through the work that you can accomplish whilst in the UK. For example, if you are eligible to work in the UK then you could make an application for a Tier 2 Work Visa.
- Reapplying for a family and private life visa
If you have had children with your partner and they are in the UK, then you could be eligible to stay on the basis that your children live there. Your children must be British citizens or have settled status for you to be able to do this.
If you are in committed marriage, yet your spouse visa application was rejected, you may be able to appeal the Home Office’s decision. Specialist immigration solicitors can help you through the spouse visa refusal process, which can be complex and take up to 6 months to complete.
The worrying issue of domestic abuse
This reliance on a partner’s visa status has horrifyingly led to concern surrounding domestic abuse cases in BAME women. A report carried out by international NGO Sisters For Change, in partnership with The Manchester Maya Project has found that migrant women in Manchester, England who are re-housed after escaping from abusive relationships have been placed in areas where they also suffer racial abuse and are at risk from religious hate crimes. Over a quarter of women in Manchester who are victims of domestic abuse have no recourse to public funds, and around 16% of Manchester’s population are from a BAME background. With these figures showing the position that migrant women find themselves in when they have reported the domestic abuse they have been subject to, it is no wonder that some of them sadly think that they will be better to stay in their abusive relationship and keep their spouse visa.
However, if you have been the victim of domestic abuse during the course of your relationship and have sufficient evidence that proves it, it is always the best choice to apply for settlement on the basis of domestic abuse. No abusive relationship is worth keeping a visa for, and there are many options that will mean that you can be supported and stay with your family in the country that you have been living in.