Corporate Private Equity Lawyers21st November 2022
No-Fault Divorce UK2nd January 2023
If suppose you are residing in the United Kingdom under a spouse visa. In that case, you must understand how a divorce or separation from your British spouse or civil partner can affect your immigration status.
Spouse Visa After Divorce, know your Immigration status: influence on spouse visa following divorce
A spouse visa allows a foreign individual to reside in the United Kingdom with their spouse or civil partner. Under UK immigration rules, you must remain in a real, subsisting, and legally recognised marriage or civil partnership for your leave to remain valid.
This indicates that your spouse’s visa depends on your relationship with your UK partner. Consequently, if this relationship ends, you will no longer meet the requirements for this sort of visa. Consequently, you will no longer be permitted to reside and work in the United Kingdom under your existing spouse’s leave.
You must notify the Home Office of the breakup of your partnership, and your visa will be terminated. In addition, you will have a limited amount of time to take action to remain in the United Kingdom, or you may be forced to leave the nation.
Separation instead of divorce?
To maintain eligibility for a spouse visa after divorce, you must demonstrate that your connection is genuine and ongoing. Therefore, it is irrelevant whether you decide to split or divorce. The fact that your relationship has ended and you no longer reside with your UK partner means that you are no longer eligible for a spouse visa and must take steps to protect your legal immigration status.
If your ex-spouse was a British citizen
To keep legal status in the United Kingdom, if you are entitled to do so, you must apply for and obtain permission to remain on a different type of visa; otherwise, you will be compelled to leave the country.
Your possibilities to remain in the United Kingdom under a particular route will rely on a variety of conditions and circumstances, such as:
- Requesting indefinite leave to remain, i.e. settlement in the United Kingdom.
- Applying for a family visa as the parent of a Child who is British, settled in the UK, or has lived in the UK for at least seven years.
- Applying for a family visa based on your private Life in the United Kingdom, for instance, if you have lived there for an extended period of time.
- Requesting permission to remain under a work visa
Given the impact a divorce would have on your immigration status and the time constraints associated with getting new permission to remain, it is usually advisable in these situations to seek legal counsel to ensure you understand all of your options and the application process.
Settling in Britain
Settlement in the United Kingdom will grant you the right to live, work, and reside indefinitely in the United Kingdom based on your own eligibility; you will no longer depend on your spouse for your status. Additionally, it will provide a path to British citizenship.
You may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain if you have consistently resided in the United Kingdom for the qualifying time as the partner of a British citizen or a settled individual (ILR). The qualifying term of continuous residence is typically five years. In addition to the criteria for lawful continuous residency, you may also be required to meet the so-called “KoLL” condition, which is your mastery of both the English language and British culture. This means that you must be able to demonstrate a commitment to respecting the laws, values, and traditions of the United Kingdom, with the capacity to communicate in English and knowledge of British culture constituting a vital element of this commitment.
Unless you are excluded due to age or other circumstances, you can meet the KoLL requirement by demonstrating your English proficiency and passing the ‘Life in the UK’ test at an authorised test centre.
You can demonstrate your English proficiency by presenting evidence of an academic qualification that was either taught or researched in English and is comparable to a UK bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree or by passing an approved English language test.
Parent route possibilities
Alternatively, you may be qualified to remain in the United Kingdom under a family visa if you are the parent of a child who resides in the United Kingdom and one of the following applies:
The child has British nationality
The child has indefinite leave to remain, established status, or proof of permanent residency in the United Kingdom.
The child has lived continuously in the United Kingdom for seven years, and it would be unreasonable for them to leave.
To qualify, you must have sole or shared parental responsibility for the child, and if shared, the other parent must be a British citizen or settled in the UK and cannot be your partner.
In the event that the child resides with the other parent, you must have in-person access to the child, either by agreement with the other parent or by court order.
Particularly, you will need to demonstrate that you are actively involved in your child’s upbringing and will remain so. You must also demonstrate proficiency in the English language and the ability to support yourself and your child without assistance from the government.
However, even if you do not meet these standards, you may still be eligible to apply for leave to remain in the United Kingdom if your child is a British citizen or has lived in the country for at least seven years and it would be regarded “unreasonable” for them to depart. This is a highly complex area of immigration law, and you are strongly advised to seek counsel regarding your specific situation.
Family life alternatives
You may also be eligible for permission to remain in the United Kingdom if you have resided in the country for an extended period.
To be eligible to apply due to family obligations, you must fall into one of the following categories:
- You have lived in the United Kingdom for twenty years.
- You are under the age of 18 and have continuously resided in the United Kingdom for at least seven years; it would be unreasonable to ask you to leave.
- You are between 18 and 24 years old and have spent at least half of your Life in the United Kingdom.
- You are at least 18 years old and have spent less than 20 years in the United Kingdom. You would face significant obstacles to integration in the country you would have to go to if required to leave the United Kingdom, such as a real risk of prosecution or significant harassment and/or discrimination based on your sexual orientation, political orientation, religion, or gender.
Optional work visa
The most prevalent work visa is the Skilled Worker visa, which is issued to individuals who have been given skilled employment that fits the necessary conditions, including skill and pay thresholds, and who are sponsored by an authorised UK business.
Under this category of visa, you must earn a total of 70 points, including 30 points for having a valid certificate of sponsorship from a licensed UK sponsor, 20 points for earning the appropriate salary for this category of visa, 10 points for demonstrating your ability to speak English at the required level, and 10 points for being able to support yourself adequately in the UK.
Again, consulting with a professional will ensure that you have considered all choices applicable to your situation and eligibility.
Domestic violence exception
You are able to make an application to apply for indefinite leave to remain if the reason for the relationship breakdown is domestic abuse, i.e. if you have experienced domestic violence as the spouse of a British citizen or someone settled in the UK. Your application can be based on psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse.
If you wish to remain in the United Kingdom due to domestic violence, you must apply for permission to remain as soon as possible after the breakup of your relationship.
Obligation to inform the Home Office
If you are living in the United Kingdom under a spouse visa and you and your UK partner decide to divorce, you must notify the Home Office of the civil partner breakup.
If you fail to notify the Home Office of a change in your circumstances, it may have a detrimental impact on any future applications you make for leave to remain or settle in the United Kingdom.
When you notify the Home Office of the collapse of your relationship and that you no longer qualify for leave to remain under a spouse visa, you must include your name, dates of birth, residences, passport numbers, and any Home Office reference number (s).
You must also include information on any children, such as with whom they reside, how much time they spend with you or your ex-spouse, how much financial assistance you provide one another, and the specifics of any legal proceedings in which you may be involved over the children.
You must also include a “public statement” form if you do not want the Home Office to inform your ex-civil partner of the contents of your letter or a “permission form” if you are okay with the Home Office informing your ex-civil partner.
This is how the public statement reads:
“I, [name], certify that my connection with [name of estranged spouse partner] has ended, that I no longer live with them, and that I do not intend to live with them in the future as my spouse or partner. I authorise the Home Office to utilise the aforementioned information. I am aware that by granting permission, the above information will be shared with [name of estranged spouse partner].”
In contrast, the permission form specifies that:
“I, [your name], grant the Home Office permission to utilise the information contained in my letter. By granting consent, I am aware that the information included in this letter will be shared with [name of estranged spouse partner].”
Need some help?
Suppose you have separated from your spouse while in the United Kingdom on a spouse visa. In that case, you must inform the Home Office and, if eligible, apply for a new visa under a different category. Without a new legal status, you must depart the United Kingdom.
Tann Law Solicitors is a seasoned UK immigration firm that provides advice and assistance to individuals regarding their immigration status and Home Office applications. If you are uncertain about your spouse visa following divorce, and your options to remain in the United Kingdom following the dissolution of your partnership or the Home Office application process, we can assist you.