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Domestic Violence Visa: Applying for ILR under Domestic Violence Abuse

Under the Home Office’s domestic violence abuse rules, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) if your relationship has recently broken down due to domestic violence or abuse.

Domestic violence includes threatening behaviour, violence, or abuse between adults (i.e., 18 years or older) who are either in a relationship together or with family members. It is important to understand that violence or abuse is not just physical; it can also be psychological, sexual, financial, or emotional.

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.

Who can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain from domestic violence?

You may be able to apply for ILR as a victim of domestic violence or coercive behaviour if you are currently in the UK and were last granted leave to enter or remain in the UK as the spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a British citizen or settled person. A settled person is an individual who has been granted permanent residence in the UK - either in the form of EU Settlement Scheme Settled Status or Indefinite Leave to Remain.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence involves an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading, and /or violent behaviour, including sexual violence. This may 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.

If you are a victim of domestic violence looking to apply for ILR, speak to one of our immigration solicitors at 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk in complete confidence.

What is meant by controlling coercive behaviour?

Under Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship is where the behaviour has a serious effect on the victim. Examples of controlling coercive behaviour include (but are 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 activities 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’s new rules for domestic violence make it clear that there is no distinction between psychological (mental) abuse and physical abuse when determining if a person has been the victim of domestic violence or abuse.

Who cannot apply for ILR under domestic violence?

You may not be eligible for ILR as a victim of domestic violence if you are in the UK as:

  • the spouse, unmarried partner, or registered civil partner of a person with limited leave to enter or limited leave to remain
  • a fiancé or fiancée or a proposed civil partner
  • a person intending to apply for asylum in the UK
  • the spouse or civil partner of a foreign or Commonwealth citizen who is currently serving or has previously served in the British forces and has not yet completed a minimum of 4 years’ “reckonable service.”
  • a European Economic Area (EEA) national or their family member

If you are the victim of domestic violence, speak to one of our immigration solicitors at 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk in complete confidence. We can advise on your eligibility for ILR. We can handle your application on your behalf and of your children, enabling you to secure a safe future in the UK in the shortest possible time.

ILR application under domestic violence requirements

To make a successful application for ILR as a person who has been affected by domestic violence or abuse during your time in the UK, the following requirements must be met:

  • You have permission to stay in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or a settled person or have been granted 30 months’ leave to remain under the domestic violence rule
  • You must be present in the UK when you apply
  • Your relationship must have broken down due to domestic violence or abuse in the UK from your partner or your partner’s family
  • You must not fall under the reasons for refusal under the suitability requirements

Relationship breakdown requirement

When making an application for ILR as a victim of domestic violence or abuse in the UK, you must be able to prove that “on the balance of probabilities”, your relationship broke down because of domestic violence. The Home Office will look at factors such as:

  • The timing of your application for ILR
  • The length of your relationship prior to applying for ILR
  • A number of attempts to secure leave in the UK on different grounds
  • Time since the alleged incident and reasons given for any delay in submitting an application

Suitability requirements

The Home Office may refuse your ILR application if you do not meet the suitability requirements (e.g., criminality). It is important to note here that if you otherwise meet the requirements above, but you have been sentenced to imprisonment of fewer than 12 months in the last seven years (or if you had a non-custodial sentence or out of court disposal in the last two years), you may be granted limited leave to remain of 30 months.

If you do not meet all of the eligibility criteria for ILR as a victim of domestic violence, you may have other alternative immigration options available to you, including:

How to apply for ILR Domestic Violence

To apply for ILR as a victim of domestic violence, you must be in the UK. The steps to apply are as follows:

  1. Complete the online application form1.
  2. Pay the application fee of £2,204 – please note there is a domestic violence fee waiver available for those who are destitute.
  3. Submit any documents required (e.g., passport) – see full list below.

For those who are destitute, it is possible to apply for the victims of domestic violence (DDV) concession2, which provides permission to stay for up to 3 months and the ability to claim benefits. This is for those who:

  • do not have a place to live and are unable to afford one, or
  • do have a place to live but are unable to afford essential living costs such as food or heating, or
  • have a very low income, and paying the application fee would harm the well-being of the applicant’s child.

At Reiss Edwards, we understand the importance of making a successful application for ILR as a victim of domestic violence, both for you and your children. We can handle the application process for you and provide the best chance of securing a positive decision. Speak to a member of our team in complete confidence on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

Domestic violence visa document requirements

The Home Office’s guidance3 on ILR for victims of domestic abuse explains the types of evidence that can be provided to support your application. It states that the following forms of evidence may be considered (please note this list only includes some of the permitted documents):

  • A criminal conviction of your partner for domestic violence will be considered conclusive evidence.
  • A police caution - accepting a caution is an admission of guilt and can be accepted as evidence that domestic violence occurred.
  • A final order in a civil court – this will be conclusive if the judge found that domestic violence occurred.
  • A Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) referral confirmed by any person who is a member of a MARAC – is considered strong evidence by the Home Office.
  • A charging decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – considered strong evidence by the Home Office
  • A domestic violence protection order – considered strong evidence by the Home Office

ILR domestic violence processing time

Applications for ILR under domestic violence can take up to 6 months to finalise. By ensuring that all of the necessary information is provided in your application, you can keep the domestic violence visa processing time to a minimum.

Applying for a Domestic violence visa with children

You can include your dependant children on your ILR application. To do so, your ex-partner must be the other parent of the child. If this is not the case, then they can still apply if their other parent is deceased, you have sole parental responsibility, or there are other compelling reasons why they should be allowed to stay. For a child under 18 to be eligible, the following must apply:

  • They must have been living in the UK with you and your ex-partner
  • You must have proof that your child will be supported and accommodated adequately without the need to apply for public funds
  • They must not be married, in a civil partnership, or living an independent life

Children over 18 can apply if:

  • They have or had immigration permission to remain in the UK as your dependant child
  • The parent had or had permission to be in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or settled person
  • They meet the criteria above for a child under 18
  • They pass the Life in the UK Test
  • They meet the English language requirements

What happens after applying for domestic violence ILR?

Once you have applied, you will need to arrange and attend an appointment to have your biometrics processed (i.e., your fingerprints and photo) for your biometric residence permit (this service is free of charge). Children of age 6 or older will also need to provide their biometrics.

You may also be invited to an interview to discuss your case. This is completely normal, and no cause for concern.

If your application is approved, you will be able to remain in the UK indefinitely and work, run a business, study, access public services (e.g., healthcare and schools), access public funds (e.g., benefits and pensions), and apply for British citizenship after 12 months.

If your application is not approved, you may be able to:

  • Appeal
  • Apply for an administrative review (if a mistake was made by the Home Office)
  • Apply for a judicial review (to challenge the legal basis for the refusal)
  • Apply for a different type of UK visa
  • Submit a fresh application for ILR

References

1 GOV.UK: Online application form

2 GOV.UK: Victims of domestic violence concession

3 GOV.UK: Home Office guidance for victims of domestic violence

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