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Can I Stay in The UK If I Divorce?

Ending your marriage does not have to mean the end of your life in Britain. Sadly, many UK Spouse Visa holders fear leaving their marriage, believing they risk losing their home and children. As we shall see, this is not the case; however, without robust legal guidance, it is easy to find yourself having no legal right to live and work in the UK. Therefore, it is vital to talk to an immigration solicitors before you end your relationship.

Your right to remain in the UK on a Spouse Visa ends upon separation

To legally live in Britain on a Spouse Visa, you must be in a "genuine and subsisting marriage or civil partnership" (the latter applies to Civil Partnership Visas). The mistake made by many is they think that their marriage ends upon divorce. For most other legal purposes, such as financial support, this is true. However, under immigration law, the right to live and work in the UK on a Spouse Visa ends upon separation.

You have a legal duty to notify the Home Office if you have a UK Spouse Visa and your relationship ends. Upon being informed, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will curtail your visa (i.e. shorten your leave to remain in the country).

"So, what if I just stay quiet?" you ask.

Don't risk it. It only takes a disgruntled neighbour or work colleague or an innocent comment on a government form to expose you. And if UKVI find out that you are not in a "genuine and subsisting marriage or civil partnership" but still on a Spouse Visa, the consequences will be grave. Such actions amount to fraud and can result in you being removed and not able to return to Britain for many years. Unfortunately, this has happened to many people who have children. You will not be treated leniently.

Always fully disclose to the Home Office changes in your personal circumstances.

There are ways you can stay in the UK if you separate from your spouse:

  1. If you have lived in Britain on a Spouse Visa for five years, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). You will need to meet the continuous residency requirements, English language requirements, and pass the Life in the UK Test.
  2. If you have sole or shared responsibility for your child/children, you can apply for a Family Visa as the parent of a British child or a child who is settled in the UK or has lived in the UK for at least seven years.
  3. Secure a Tier 2 (General) Visa by getting your employer to sponsor you. Your employer will need to apply for a Sponsor Licence (if they do not already have one). Depending on your role, your employer may need to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test before offering you a Certificate of Sponsorship. This can be a tricky process; therefore, it is advisable that you and your employer work with an immigration lawyer to get the best result.
  4. Apply for leave to remain on the bases of private life. You can qualify for this if you have lived in the UK for 20 or more years (not counting any time spent in a UK prison). However, leave to remain may be also granted if you have lived in the UK for less than 20 years and there would be "very significant obstacles" to your ability to integrate into the country to which you would have to go if required to leave the UK.

An examination of the Immigration Guidance shows that, like all routes which rely on a caseworker's discretion, to succeed under point number 4 is not easy. For example, the guidance states:

"Where there are no family, friends or social networks in the country of return that is not in itself a very significant obstacle to integration - many people successfully migrate to countries where they have no existing ties."

"If an applicant has never lived in the country of return, or only spent their early years there, this will not necessarily mean that there are very significant obstacles preventing them from integrating particularly if they can speak a language of that country".

And even if they cannot speak the language,

"...this will not in itself be a very significant obstacle to integration unless they can also show that they would be unable to learn a language of that country, for example because of a mental or physical disability".

Few people would succeed in an application under point 4 without professional legal assistance.

Domestic abuse

No one should be forced to stay in a relationship where domestic abuse is present. UKVI is permitted to grant ILR to victims of domestic violence who leave their relationship if they are on a Spouse Visa. Make sure you support your application by gathering as much evidence of the abuse as possible, such as police reports, medical reports, threatening messages etc.

If you are suffering from domestic abuse, please call Refuge on 0808 2000 247 (24 hours).

Non-EU/EEA nationals divorcing an EU/EEA National living in the UK

If you are in the UK as the family member of an EU/EEA national and your relationship breaks down, you may be able to remain in the country under a Retained Right of Residence. You will need to have been married for three years to qualify or have resided in the UK with your spouse for at least one year prior to separating. Furthermore, the EU/EEA national must be a 'qualified person', meaning they are exercising their Treaty rights by either working, studying, being self-employed, or they are self-sufficient.

To apply for Retained Right of Residence, your marriage must be formally dissolved by the Courts. You can remain in the UK, even if you are separated as you are still recognised as an EU/EEA citizen's family member.

At 11pm on 31 January 2020, the UK officially leaves the EU. However, these rules will apply during the transition period which runs to December 2020.

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

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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

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"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.

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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".

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"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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Top Notch Immigration Service

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Fong Li

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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".

Amir Sandeep

"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

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

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