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Spouse Visa After Divorce: What You Need To Know

If you are a foreign national with a UK spouse visa (i.e. a family visa as a partner or spouse) and your relationship has recently come to an end (or you think it may), you may be concerned about what will happen to your immigration status and the options now available to you and your children. Under the family visa immigration route, a British national or a person settled here can sponsor their foreign partner to live with them in the UK. Unfortunately and inevitably, some of those relationships will fail, leading to separation. The challenge from an immigration standpoint is that if they are no longer in a relationship with their sponsor, they are no longer entitled to remain in the UK on a spouse visa. They can, however, apply for another visa or possibly indefinite leave to remain (ILR) if they are eligible. In this article, we look at the rights that you will have after the breakdown of a marriage and look at the wider implications that a marriage breakdown can have on a spouse visa.

What happens to a spouse visa after the divorce?

The Home Office makes it very clear that a person in the UK on a spouse visa is only able to stay as long as they remain in a genuine relationship with their partner. If you are a spouse visa holder, you must inform the Home Office when you divorce or separate from your partner.

Likewise, the Home Office also requires that the ex-partner inform them of the separation. In other words, both parties have an obligation to tell the Home Office in the event of divorce or separation.

Once you have informed the Home Office of your separation from your partner, they will then curtail (i.e. shorten) the duration of your visa.

Notifying the Home Office of separation

To inform the Home Office of your change in circumstances, you must send an email to StatusReviewUnit@homeoffice.gov.uk with the words “MARRIAGE BREAKDOWN” in the subject line.

In the email, you should include the visa holders:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Passport number
  • Home office reference number

If you or your ex-partner have children in the UK, you must provide the following additional information in your email/letter to the Home Office:

  • Names and dates of birth of the children
  • Names of their parents or guardians, and who they live with
  • How much time they spend with you or your ex-partner
  • How much child maintenance or financial help you give each other
  • Details of any ongoing or pending family court cases (e.g. Custody or child maintenance cases)

You will need to complete and sign one of the following forms, depending on your disclosure preferences, which should be scanned and attached to the email:

  • A public statement 1: this form should be used if you do not want the Home Office official handling your case to inform your ex-partner of any details in your email, or;
  • A consent form 1: this form should be used if you consent to the Home Office official informing your ex-partner of any of the details from your email

It should be noted that both forms effectively grant permission for the Home Office official to contact your ex-partner at the address you have provided.

If you would prefer not to use email, you can send a letter with the above information and a printed copy of the form you have chosen to:

UK Visas and Immigration

MARRIAGE BREAKDOWN

Status Review Unit

7th Floor

The Capital

New Hall Place

Liverpool

L3 9PP

Once you have informed the Home Office of your separation, you must then either apply for a new visa, for ILR, or for an EUSS Family Permit (these options are explained below), or leave the UK.

Spouse visa curtailment

After you have informed the Home Office of your separation, the spouse visa will typically be shortened (curtailed) to 60 days. This means that unless the spouse visa holder takes other action, they will need to leave the UK within 60 days. The reason that the Home Office does not immediately revoke the visa is to allow the holder to review their options and make a decision as to the best course of action for themselves and their children. Typically this will be to apply for a different visa, apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain or leave the country.

If the spouse visa has less than 60 days remaining when you inform the Home Office of the separation, the current expiry date will remain as is.

In addition, if there are exceptional circumstances, the Home Office may decide to curtail the visa immediately or allow a longer period of curtailment beyond the standard 60 days. For example, if the visa holder has been a victim of domestic violence, the Home Office may not shorten the duration of the visa.

Can you stay in the UK after divorce, dissolution, or separation?

Yes, you will be able to stay in the UK following divorce, dissolution, or separation if you decide to apply for a new immigration status for which you are eligible. The main options are to:

  • Apply for a new visa, including a:
    • Work visa (e.g. a Skilled Worker visa)
    • Family visa:
      • As a parent of a child who is British or has been living in the UK for at least 7 years
      • On the basis of your private life: if you are between the ages of 18 and 24 and you have resided here for more than half of your life, you would have very significant problems living in the country you would have to return to, or if you are 25 or over and you’ve been in the UK continuously for 20 years.
  • Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) if you have “Retained Right of Residence”
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain: if you have been living in the UK on your spouse visa for 5 continuous years.

Please contact our immigration lawyers on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk to discuss your options.

Retained right of residence - EU Settlement Scheme family permit

In the case of a divorce, dissolution, or separation, if your UK based partner was from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you may be able to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit based on your retained rights of residence. This is the case if one of the following applies:

  • The marriage or civil partnership lasted for at least 3 years, and you both lived in the UK for at least one year during that time
  • You have custody of your previous family member’s child
  • You have been given right of access in the UK to your previous family member’s child, and the child is under 18
  • You or another family member have experienced particularly difficult circumstances - for example, as the victim of domestic violence or abuse in the marriage or civil partnership

If you are unsure as to whether you do qualify, please get in touch, and one of our immigration specialists will be happy to take a look at your case.

If you have a child with British nationality

You may be able to apply for a family visa (under the parent route 2) if the following apply:

  • Your child is under 18 when you apply or were under 18 when you were first granted leave and they do not live an independent life
  • Your child is a British or Irish citizen
  • Your child has settled in the UK (e.g. They have ILR, settled status or proof of permanent residence)
  • Your child is from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland Or Liechtenstein and has pre-settled status (and were living in the UK before 1 January 2021)
  • Your child has been living in the UK for 7 years continuously and it would not be reasonable for them to leave (this applies if you are currently living in the UK).

Can ILR be revoked if I divorce?

If you applied for and gained ILR on the basis of your marriage, civil partnership, or relationship (e.g. if you held a spouse visa for 5 years), what matters is your intention to remain living and in a genuine relationship with your partner when you submitted your ILR application. Naturally, some relationships come to an end, and in this situation, you would not ordinarily lose your ILR status.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

The family immigration team at Reiss Edwards have a wealth of experience in helping spouse/partner visa holders and their children to retain their right to stay in the UK in the event of separation. Contact our immigration lawyers on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk

Our team of specialist family immigration Solicitors can:

  • Review your situation and goals for your future in the UK
  • Explain all of your options (in most cases, you will have several options available to you)
  • Recommend an overall strategy to meet your immigration needs.
  • Review any new application and evidence prior to submission
  • Handle the application process entirely on your behalf
  • If your application has been refused, we can explain the options available to you and deal with the Home Office on your behalf
  • Handle appeals, Administrative Reviews and Judicial Reviews on your behalf, ensuring you have the very best chance of success.

References:

1 GOV.UK: Inform UKVI of a relationship breakdown: statement and consent form

2 GOV.UK: Family visas apply, extend or switch


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