It is always important to consider whether specialist immigration advice is required following a separation. This can be particularly significant if you are in the UK on a partner visa (such as a spousal, civil partner, unmarried partner or fiancé visa), meaning your visa is dependent on your relationship, marriage or civil partnership.
When will specialist legal advice be required?
If you are in the UK on a partner visa then your visa is dependent on your relationship and if that has now come to an end (i.e. your relationship has permanently broken down), it means you no longer meet the eligibility requirements of your visa. The key test is whether you are in a ‘genuine and subsisting relationship’. You may be able to apply to remain in the UK on alternative immigration routes following a relationship breakdown, and legal advice should be sought as soon as possible, as steps may need to be taken quickly to secure your immigration status.
If my relationship has come to an end, do I have a duty to report this?
Both you and your partner have a duty to report to the Home Office that there has been a change in your relationship and it has now permanently broken down. The timing of the report is somewhat subjective but it should be made as soon as the relationship has broken down permanently. Therefore, if there is a possibility that you may get back together with your partner then a report does not need to be made immediately. On some occasions, this may be when divorce proceedings are initiated which clearly demonstrates that the relationship has broken down permanently.
How long can I remain here after my separation?
Once a notification has been made to the Home Office, the person dependant on the partner visa will usually have their leave curtailed to a period of 60 days. Whilst there are some very limited exceptions to this (for example if there has been domestic violence), it means you will have roughly two months to consider what other immigration routes you may be able to switch to. Much will depend on your specific circumstances and whether you are in a position to apply for indefinite leave to remain or another type of visa (e.g. work visa).
What does this mean for the divorce itself?
Immigration advice should be sought as early as possible following a relationship breakdown to ensure that any steps taken in divorce proceedings do not prejudice your immigration status.
It is also crucial that you understand your options for remaining in the UK so that this can be factored into any discussions relating to either the division of finances or arrangements for children following a separation.
- If you are not able to remain in the UK, will any children remain here or will they move and when will each parent spend time with the children? If there is a disagreement over where any children should live, do steps need to be taken to try and secure an order to relocate the children to another jurisdiction?
- If you are able to secure a new visa, does it restrict your ability to work and earn money in the UK and does that, therefore, need to be a factor in any financial discussions?
If you have a partner visa (or any other dependant visa) and are experiencing difficulties in your relationship or you have concerns about your immigration status, please do contact our family or immigration teams as soon as possible for advice and guidance before any steps are taken. We can assist you with understanding your legal position and advise you on any steps which may be necessary to ensure you retain a right to remain in the UK.