UK Dependant Visa Holders: Your Rights After Domestic Violence

Empowering Victims: With The Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession

Suppose you are in the UK on a Dependant Visa, and your partner holds a Work Visa or Business Visa. In that case, you might be concerned that ending your relationship would result in the termination of your permission to stay in the UK.

However, a recent amendment to the UK immigration rules provides those who qualify the opportunity to apply for temporary leave to remain under the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession (MVDAC). This three-month period of leave allows you the necessary time to assess your family circumstances and explore other visa opportunities should you wish to remain in the UK.

Temporary Permission to Stay in the UK on a Dependant Visa

On 16 February 2024, the Home Office announced amendments to the rules regarding applications for temporary leave to remain in the UK under the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession (MVDAC), previously known as the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC).

Prior to 16 February 2024, eligibility for the concession was limited to individuals in the UK on a Family Visa, such as a Spouse Visa, Unmarried Partner Visa, or Civil Partner Visa. The Home Office has now expanded eligibility to include those in the UK on a Dependant Visa, where the main visa holder possesses either:

  • A Work Visa
  • An economic route visa
  • A Student Visa

To qualify for the concession, you need to provide compelling evidence that your relationship ended due to domestic abuse.

There remains a distinction in the immigration treatment of individuals in the UK who have experienced domestic abuse, based on whether they are partners on a Family Visa under Appendix FM or on Dependant Visas:

  • A Family Visa holder can apply for the 3-month concession and subsequently apply to settle in the UK if their relationship with their sponsoring partner ends due to domestic abuse. This pathway allows them to apply for indefinite leave to remain without meeting the usual 5-year residence requirement under the domestic violence concession.
  • Conversely, a person on a Dependant Visa, where the main visa holder falls into an eligible category, is restricted to applying for a 3-month temporary clearance if their relationship with the main visa holder ends due to domestic violence.

Understanding the 3-Month Concession for Dependant Visa Holders

The Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession (MVDAC) offers Dependant Visa holders a lifeline if their relationship ends due to domestic abuse. It allows them to apply for a 3-month visa, granting them independent immigration status separate from the main visa holder who sponsored them.

This concession offers Dependant Visa holders a limited window to either apply for a visa in their own right (such as a Skilled Worker Visa) or to make arrangements to leave the UK while retaining lawful status.

Granted as an exception to standard immigration rules, this 3-month concession provides crucial support to victims of domestic abuse. It not only grants them independent immigration status but also enables them to access public funds for financial assistance and specialised support services to help rebuild their lives.

However, it is crucial to note that this concession does not apply to individuals in the UK on a visa with independent immigration status who are leaving an abusive relationship, such as those on a Health and Care Worker Visa or a Skilled Worker Visa. Furthermore, the concession is not available to those in the UK on a Fiancé(e) Visa.

Eligibility for MVDAC Leave for Dependant Visa Holders

Dependant Visa holders may apply for leave under the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession (MVDAC) if their relationship with the main visa holder has ended due to domestic abuse.

According to the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, domestic abuse includes any single incident or pattern of behaviour where one person’s actions towards another are abusive. This definition applies to individuals aged 16 or over who are or have been personally connected, regardless of gender or sexuality.

The forms of abuse covered under this definition include:

  • Physical violence
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Threats of abuse
  • Honour-based violence and dowry-related abuse
  • Controlling and coercive behaviour

If you are unsure whether you qualify for the concession, our Immigration Solicitors can offer guidance. Additionally, if you need assistance to protect yourself from ongoing abuse, our Family Law Solicitors can help you apply for an injunction order or a child arrangement order to ensure the safety of your children.

Utilising Your 3-Month MVDAC Leave Effectively

If you are granted 3-months’ leave to remain under the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession (MVDAC), you are allowed to work and have full access to public funds. The Home Office will confirm your temporary status, ensuring you receive the necessary support.

During this 3-month period, it is essential to seek specialist immigration legal advice to explore your visa options and submit your new visa application before your leave expires. Applying before the end of your 3-month leave allows you to remain in the UK until the Home Office makes a decision on your new visa application.

Extending Your MVDAC Leave

Under the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession (MVDAC), extending your leave beyond the initial 3 months is not permitted. Therefore, it is crucial to seek expert immigration legal advice promptly to submit a new visa application and secure a visa as the primary visa holder.

Reapplying for MVDAC Leave

You can only apply for MVDAC leave once. The 3-month period is designed to give you sufficient time to apply for a new visa if you wish to remain in the UK. While your new visa application is under consideration, you can continue to reside in the UK under section 3C leave.

Consequences of Not Applying for MVDAC Leave on a Dependant Visa

If you are in the UK on a Dependant Visa as the partner of a main visa holder and your relationship ends, you must either leave the UK or quickly apply for a visa in your own right if you do not qualify for the 3-month legal status under the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession (MVDAC).

Remaining in the UK without applying for MVDAC leave or another visa will result in being classified as an overstayer by the Home Office. Your dependant visa is contingent upon your ongoing relationship with the main visa holder.

Our immigration solicitors emphasise the importance of utilising the MVDAC if you are eligible. This concession grants you the time to make an independent immigration application without jeopardising your immigration record. A compromised immigration record can significantly hinder your chances of obtaining a new visa from the Home Office.

For expert guidance, contact Axis Solicitors today.

How Axis Solicitors Can Assist You

At Axis Solicitors, our experienced Immigration Solicitors are dedicated to helping you navigate your visa options if you are leaving an abusive relationship while on a Dependant Visa. We can provide you with guidance and support throughout any visa application process.

Our Family Law Solicitors are well-equipped to handle all your family law needs. We offer expert advice on applying for injunction orders, managing divorce proceedings, negotiating financial settlements for separating spouses or unmarried partners, handling child law cases, applying for child arrangement orders, and advising on relocation orders if you wish to return to your home country with your children.

Our Offices and Services

Axis Solicitors has offices conveniently located in London, Birmingham, and Manchester, ensuring easy access to expert legal services across the UK. We understand the importance of confidentiality and convenience, which is why we also offer remote legal consultations, allowing you to receive professional advice from the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Free Initial Consultation

To help you take the first step towards resolving your immigration issues, we offer a free initial consultation. During this session, our experienced solicitors will discuss your case, outline your options, and provide the direction you need to move forward confidently.

Contact Axis Solicitors today to schedule your free consultation and benefit from our comprehensive legal expertise.

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