Foreign victims of domestic violence must know that they have options
Many foreign spouses seeking to join their British partners ( or partners with indefinite leave to remain and/or present and settled) in the United Kingdom look forward to their new life in a country full of opportunities and with the support of their loving companions to whom they have linked their lives.
Some times they leave behind their family homes in other countries to follow their hearts in the hope of establishing a happy family in the United Kingdom with the support of their spouses.
Whist this dream might be fulfilled in many occasions, however, there are numerous others that fall in a trap of violence and abuse in a country they feel foreign, where they have no friends or support and hence at the mercy of their same spouses for whom they left everything behind.
Some times it is difficult to understand when and how the situation changed, when the same loving partner that facilitated the coming to the United Kingdom became abusive. It can also be hard to identify patterns of domestic violence either by the partner or their family and many victims suffer lonely and in silence without knowing that they have options . They are scared of the aggravation by their partners if they rebel and they are often victims of blackmail by way of their precarious immigration status in the United Kingdom dependent upon the relationship with their abusive partner being maintained.
Nobody should justify abuse or go thorough it alone . Victims of domestic violence should remove themselves from the reach of the harmful partners and seek legal advice and support as soon as possible.
Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse. It can come from a spouse or partner or from a person other than the partner such the partner’s family members.
Since 31 March 2013, the new cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to : Psychological, physical, sexual, financial and/or emotional.
It will always be necessary to show that the relationship has broken down during the probationary period as a result of the domestic violence. However, there is no a requirement to have current leave.
Domestic violence is widely defined and at LUPINS our solicitors are sensitive to certain behaviours even if our client’s don’t always recognise it to be domestic violence. Signs of domestic violence include:
Forced marriage, threats regarding ‘honour’, destructive criticism and verbal abuse, pressure tactics, disrespect and humiliation, breaking trust, isolation, harassment, threats, sexual violence, physical violence, denial, actions that make you feel suicidal or encourages to contemplate or commit suicide.
Victims of domestic violence may be granted indefinite leave to remain where the marriage or relationship breaks down permanently during the 2 year probationary period as a result of domestic violence.
The Destitution Domestic Violence (DDV Concession) allows prospective applicants under the domestic violence rule who can establish themselves as destitute to apply for 3 months of discretionary leave to allow them to claim benefits and secure temporary accommodation whist they make an await a decision on the domestic violence application. A person granted DDV leave will not have to pay a fee when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the Immigration Rules.
For family members of European nationals there is also a provision under the Immigration Regulations 2006 to retain residence rights in certain circumstances with reference to domestic violence.
If you are a victim of domestic violence or know anybody who is, and you are worried about your immigration status in the United Kingdom you should seek legal advice .
At LUPINS our experienced solicitors will be able to guide you and explain the law to you in simple terms.