UK Re-Entry Pathway Now Available in 2024 for Overseas Victims of Domestic Violence

A photo of an immigration solicitor explaining the new re-entry pathway in 2024 for overseas victims of domestic violence, namely the Appendix Victim of Domestic Violence (VDA) at Axis Solicitors Birmingham office.

On December 7, 2023, the introduction of the new Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse (VDA) was announced, becoming effective as of January 31, 2024. The Home Office, through its Statement of Changes, introduced the Appendix VDA as part of a sweeping overhaul designed to provide improved protection for those affected by domestic abuse, in particular, victims of transnational marriage abandonment (TMA) and their dependent children. 

Historically, individuals affected by transnational marriage abandonment encountered stringent legal challenges. Repeatedly, British or settled persons intentionally left their spouses stranded abroad, placing them in a precarious situation without access to domestic violence protections due to their absence from the UK. This significant oversight in the system has been duly recognised and is what the new amendment seeks to rectify. 

Continue reading this blog post to learn more about this development in immigration law, which represents improved support mechanisms for individuals suffering from the devastating impacts of domestic abuse. 

Origins of the New Amendment

The alteration stemmed from a critical judgment by the High Court in the case of R (AM) v SSHD [2022] EWHC 2591 (Admin) in October 2022. In the matter, a Pakistani female resident of the United Kingdom found herself stranded in Pakistan, estranged from her two-year-old offspring, following abandonment during a purported family vacation by her coercive spouse. In delivering her verdict, Mrs Justice Lieven determined that the stipulations within the Immigration Rules pertaining to Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) for survivors of domestic abuse contravene the Human Rights Act to the extent that they exhibit discrimination against survivors situated outside the UK.

Consequently, the High Court mandated that the Home Office should extend the same considerations to those who have endured transnational marriage abandonment as it does to other victims of domestic violence within the UK. This encompasses the provision to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Appendix VDA

Appendix VDA supersedes the previous SET(DV) rules under Appendix FM, marking a progressive step towards addressing the issue of domestic abuse within the immigration context. This new Appendix underscores the UK’s commitment to protecting those subjected to domestic abuse, including specific provisions for transnational marriage abandonment victims. This long-neglected area finally receives the attention it deserves.

Existing Eligibility Criteria

In accordance with existing regulations, applicants are required to hold leave to remain in one of the specified categories:

  • As a partner of a British citizen or a person settled in the UK, pursuant to Appendix FM, Part 8 of the Immigration Rules, or Appendix Armed Forces.
  • As the partner of a refugee.

The eligibility criteria for the Migrant Victims of Domestic Violence Concession align with those established for the DDVC. Eligibility to apply for this Concession is extended to individuals who have previously been granted leave to remain in any of the aforementioned categories.

The regulations concerning individuals residing in the UK under leave to remain as the partner of an HM Armed Forces member have transitioned from Appendix Armed Forces to Appendix VDA.

It is a prerequisite that the relationship between the applicant and their partner has ended irreversibly due to domestic abuse.

Additional Requirements

A significant enhancement within Appendix VDA is the formal recognition and support for victims of transnational marriage abandonment, offering a tangible route for their return and resettlement in the UK. 

Additionally, the inclusion of dependent children in the application process, with considerations extending to those over 18 years of age under certain conditions, reflects a more inclusive and compassionate approach.

Nonetheless, applicants above the age of 18 who are applying in the capacity of a child must meet additional criteria, including the attainment of a B1 level in the English language test and successful completion of the Life in the UK test.

Guidance and Support

In conjunction with the rollout of Appendix VDA, comprehensive caseworker guidance has been made available, aimed at ensuring a uniform understanding and application of the new rules. 

Our experienced immigration solicitors are ready to navigate these changes on your behalf. At Axis Solicitors, our extensive expertise in handling domestic violence cases within the immigration framework enables us to provide empathetic, client-focused and competitively-priced fixed-fee services.

Your Pathway to Protection

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse and requires immigration advice or assistance, both our immigration and family law teams are ready to help. Our approach is grounded in sensitivity, confidentiality, and a deep understanding of the law. We ensure your case is handled with the utmost care and professionalism, aiming to secure the best possible outcome for you and your loved ones.

In this time of change, Axis Solicitors remains your steadfast ally, committed to guiding you through the UK’s immigration laws with expertise and compassion. Contact us online today or call one of our offices for a free initial consultation. Regardless of whether you live near one of our offices in Manchester, London, Birmingham, Chester, Newcastle, or elsewhere, we offer remote consultations for clients located anywhere in the UK or abroad. We provide an initial consultation free of charge, which remains confidential and lets you know how to proceed with your case. Contact us today to arrange a video or voice call via secure and convenient communication platforms like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, WhatsApp or Zoom. 

Empowerment Through Legal Excellence

At Axis Solicitors, we are dedicated to turning the challenges of today into the successes of tomorrow. Contact us to begin your journey towards safety and stability. Get the future you deserve thanks to our client-focused and results-driven solicitors.

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