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All You Need to Know About Domestic Abuse And ILR

If you or your children are in immediate danger, please call 999 and ask for the police. You can also call the 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

Anyone in an abusive relationship is in a dangerous and terrifying situation. But if you are in the UK on a Spouse Visa, Civil Partnership Visa, or Unmarried Partner Visa, the situation is especially frightening. But you are not alone. And you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which will allow you to stay permanently in the UK if your relationship breaks down because of domestic violence/abuse.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic violence involves an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading, and /or violent behavior, including sexual violence, in most cases in a partner, ex-partner family member or carer.

It can include, but is not limited to:

  • Physical violence
  • Emotional and mental abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Economic abuse (withholding money or refusing to allow you to work)
  • Coercive control
  • Online or digital abuse
  • Harassment and stalking

Both men and women can be victims of domestic abuse.

What is meant by controlling coercive behaviour?

Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created an offence criminalising controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship where the behaviour has a serious effect on the victim.

Examples of controlling coercive behaviour include (but is not limited to):

  • Monitoring a person’s time and who they see
  • Isolating a person from their friends and family
  • Depriving someone of their basic needs
  • Enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade, or dehumanise the victim
  • Criticising them and telling them they are worthless
  • Threats to kill, either the victim, a child, or a pet
  • Controlling finances and not allowing a person access to money

The Home Office guidance clearly states that “No distinction should be made between psychological (mental) abuse and physical abuse when assessing if a person has been the victim of domestic violence or abuse.”

What is a Non-Molestation Order and Occupation Order?

To protect yourself and your children you can apply for a Non-Molestation Order from the Family Court. A Non-Molestation Order confers protection on family members, including children or people in a domestic relationship, against the use of violence or other forms of molestation by a person with whom they are associated. The legislation does not define ‘molestation’, so it can have a wide interpretation. A Non-Molestation Order can be applied for without your spouse/partner's knowledge (known as an ex-parte application).

If your abuser breaches the terms of a Non-Molestation Order, the police can charge them with a criminal offence.

You can also apply for an Occupation Order, which will allow you and your children to remain in the home that you shared with the perpetrator. Occupation Orders are often temporary and difficult to obtain. Therefore, it is best to seek legal advice before making an application.

How do I apply for ILR if I am the victim of domestic abuse?

If you are in the UK as a spouse or partner of a British Citizen or someone with ILR, you can apply for permission to stay permanently in Britain, even if your visa has expired. The domestic violence ILR route is not open to those in the UK on a Fiancé Visa or any other type of visa, such as a Tier 4 Student Visa.

If you have fled to a refuge to escape the family home and have no means of financial support, you can apply for three-months' leave to remain in the UK under the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession. If you are granted this concession, you can access public funds and benefits.

To be eligible for the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession, you must prove:

Once you have been granted the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession and are in a position of safety, you must apply for ILR.

To obtain ILR as a victim of domestic violence, you must:

  • be in the UK
  • have made a lawful application
  • meet the suitability requirements for ILR
  • meet all the eligibility requirements

What if my partner has hidden my passport?

Many victims of domestic abuse find that their partner will do everything possible to hinder their application for ILR. You will need to provide evidence of identity when making your ILR application unless there is a good reason for not being able to do so. If your partner refuses to hand over your passport, make an application to your country’s embassy or consulate for a new one, reporting your existing passport stolen. By doing this, you can provide a ‘good reason’ why you are unable to include your passport with your application.

Proving domestic abuse

The Home Office guidance does not set out specific documents that must be produced to prove that your relationship has broken down because of domestic violence. Every application will be decided on an individual basis. The caseworker will need to conclude, on the balance of probabilities, that domestic violence/abuse occurred.

Evidence that can support your application include:

  • The granting of a court order, such as a Non-Molestation Order, Occupation Order, Forced Marriage Protection Order, or a Prohibited Steps Order or Contact Order in which domestic violence was a factor in the Order being granted.
  • Your partner has had a criminal conviction for committing domestic violence against you and/or your children.
  • Evidence of police attending a domestic violence incident at your home.
  • Medical records showing that your injuries were consistent with domestic violence.
  • A letter from a refuge or other agency supporting victims of domestic abuse stating that you have been assessed as a victim of domestic violence and support has been provided. If no assistance was given, make sure a reason is included (for example, the refuge was full).

Can I have the ILR application fee waived?

The fee for a domestic violence ILR application is the same as all other ILR applications (at the time of writing £2,289). However, this fee will be waived if you can prove that:

  • You do not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it; or
  • You have adequate accommodation but cannot pay for other essential living needs.

You will need to provide evidence in the form of bank statements, a rental agreement, utility bill, etc. However, many victims who have fled their abusers do not have these to hand. The best evidence under these circumstances is a letter from your local authority or a refuge confirming that you have been provided with financial support and your poverty is genuine.

Getting Legal Representation

Given the complexity of obtaining ILR as a victim of domestic violence and the level of evidence required to support the application, getting professional legal advice is vital. Unlike most other immigration matters, you can apply for legal aid to help pay your lawyers’ fees and expenses.

Not every law firm has a legal aid contract. However, all lawyers registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have a legal obligation to direct you to a legal aid Solicitor if they believe you qualify for financial support.

Domestic abuse is a criminal offence and is never the victim’s fault. Help is available from the below organisations.

Support services for domestic violence victims

National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) – 0800 970 20 70

Refuge - 0808 2000 247 (24 hours)

Women’s Aid 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)

ManKind - 01823 334 244

Galop LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0800 999 5428

Some of our Happy Client

Reiss Edwards Awards

ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated
Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge
Lexology Legal Influencers
ACQ5 Awards Award ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated Three Best Rated
Department For International Development Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge University Of Cambridge
Lexology Legal Influencers Lexology Legal Influencers

O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

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"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

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"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

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"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

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"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

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Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

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"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

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Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

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"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

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"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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"Investing over 2 million pounds is defintely not a routine decision. We had to ...

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"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a ...

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