Coping with a divorce is not easy. Ending a marriage can be an emotional and overwhelming experience which can seem extremely difficult to cope with. Things can get even more daunting if you are currently on a Spouse Visa and are dependent on your ex-spouse for your settlement in the UK.
Once your marriage has ended, it is likely that you will be asked by the Home Office to leave within a number of weeks. If you’ve started a family, are employed or are generally settled into life in the UK, you are probably not willing to leave quite yet. If this is the case, then it is vital you act quickly.
These five steps highlight the range of solutions available to remaining in the UK and will help you find the best option for you.
- Inform the Home Office
Before looking at your options, it is important that you alert the Home Office of the divorce as soon as possible. If you fail to let them know and they find out, your chances of having to leave will most likely increase.
Once you’ve informed the Home Office that you are no longer in a relationship with your sponsor, you will still be expected to leave. Once you have applied for a different type of visa, this will give you the opportunity to remain in the UK.
- Research Visa Options
Fortunately, the UK has a range of visa options available which can provide you with a suitable route towards permanent settlement.
- Work visas – the most common being the Tier 2 (General) Visa which allows skilled workers to remain in the UK after being offered a job. If you are already working in the UK, check that your workplace is able to employ foreign workers.
- Study visas – known as Tier 4 study visas, which allow you to stay in the UK if you have an unconditional offer of study.
- Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) – These can be applied for if your marriage has lasted for a minimum of five years in the UK. This visa requires you to demonstrate knowledge of the English language and the UK through an English language test and life in the UK test.
- Seek legal advice
As the visa application process can be complex, it is important that you seek professional help before submitting the application. If you have researched the different available visa options and are still unsure of the most suitable one for you, acquiring the advice of an experienced UK immigration lawyer will be majorly beneficial. They will assist you in making an informed decision which gives you the best chance of remaining in the UK.
- Family Visa
If you have started a family in the UK with your partner and have either sole or partial responsibility for your child(ren), applying for a Family Visa will be the most suitable option for you.
Like many other visas, this route has English Language and financial requirements. You will need to show your ability to accommodate your child without contribution from public funds. Once the initial 30 months of the visa is up, you will be able to renew it until you have five years continuous residence, enabling you to apply for ILR.
- Domestic Violence
You should not have to remain in an abusive relationship in order to secure settlement in the UK. If you have been the victim of domestic abuse, you have the opportunity to apply for ILR, regardless of how long you have been in the UK.
Whilst completing your ILR application, you are required to apply for temporary leave. This needs to be done as swiftly as possible following your split from your partner. Evidence of domestic abuse will need to be provided in order to make you eligible for this route. If you are successful, you’ll be able to stay in the country indefinitely.
With many options available for remaining in the UK, it is important that you assess each route carefully in order to give you the best chance of getting a successful result. Following these steps will allow you to keep yourself organised so that you can act as quickly and efficiently as possible.
This article has been written by Maddie Grounds, political correspondent at the Immigration Advice Service.