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Immigration Problems and Abusive Relationships

Even if you do not have a permanent right to stay in the UK, or have British citizenship you have the right to call the Police for protection against violence and to apply for a court protection order against your abusive partner. At the earliest opportunity, you must also go to your local hospital (A&E department) and/or GP to get treatment for any injuries or to report any physical or emotional abuse you have experienced.

If your right to be in the UK is dependent upon you staying in your marriage or relationship you will need to seek immediate immigration legal advice. Southall Black Sisters may be able to refer you to a solicitor or legal adviser if you have not managed to find legal advice and representation. Please contact our helpline if you need advice.

In certain circumstances, we may also be able to provide additional support and assistance whilst you are going through the process of making an application to remain in the country because of violence and abuse that you have suffered in your marriage or relationship and/or because you fear being returned your country of origin where you will be at risk of violence and abuse.

In order to help you your legal adviser will need to know the following information:

  • When you came to the UK and how long you are allowed to stay in the UK.
  • Why you came to the UK (e.g. to join your husband, as a student, domestic worker).
  • If there are any conditions or restrictions upon you staying in the UK (e.g. you must not work or claim benefits)

If you have your passport and other essential visa or immigration documents, it is very important that you try and take these with you when you see the solicitor as most of the important information that will be needed will be in these documents. Your legal adviser will advise you on what your immigration status is, what rights you have to stay in the UK and what steps if any you can take to remain in the UK, if you are afraid to return to the country you came from.

Domestic Violence Rule

  • If you came into the UK on a two year visa as the spouse or partner of someone who is settled permanently in the UK;
  • Your visa has not expired;
  • Your relationship broke down due to domestic violence;
  • And you can show that domestic violence has taken place against you (by providing evidence of the abuse) during the two years

You may be able to stay in the UK under immigration law. We can initially advise you as to whether the Rule applies to you but you will also need to find a legal adviser to confirm this and make an application on your behalf.

Financial Support

The rules as to what financial support people with immigration problems are entitled to are complicated. If you cannot work and cannot claim benefits, you will find it difficult to find a refuge place as they rely on rental income from you or housing benefits. If you have children with you, you should always approach your local authority so that they can carry out an assessment of your children’s needs in particular. You might be entitled to support and accommodation from Social Services but what you get will depend on your immigration status and their approach which can vary from area to area. Obtaining legal advice on the support you are entitled to from Social Services will often be necessary. We can give you initial advice on what you might be entitled to and help in finding a refuge or advise you on alternative options.

If you live in Ealing and have children, we can help you in ensuring that Social Services provide you with financial support and accommodation that you need if you qualify for help. If you do not have children, we will still try and assist you, although your housing and financial support options may be more limited.

Asylum Seekers

If you have claimed asylum and the decision is still pending you will be entitled to some financial support and accommodation from the UKBA. If you are already an asylum seeker when the violence takes place, you can ask for the UKBA to pay for  you to go to a refuge or other temporary accommodation and help you to move away from your abuser. If you are the dependant of an asylum seeker and your relationship has broken down due to violence you need to seek urgent legal advice on what you should do next.

Links for websites giving practical and legal information on immigration, asylum, financial support and domestic violence:

  • Asylum Aid, tel: 020 7354 9264, Mondays 2.00 pm – 4:30pm and Thursdays 10.00 am –12:30pm.
  • Refugee Council, switchboard tel: 020 7346 6700 for telephone numbers of their regional advice lines
  • Refugee Women’s Association,  tel: 020 7923 2412.
  • Refugee Action, Head office, tel: 020 7654 7700 for local offices and advice lines. Please note that they do not offer advice in London
  • Rights of Women Immigration and asylum law advice line 020 7490 7689 (telephone) or 020 7490 2562 (textphone)
  • See our Campaigns page for more information about our campaign to change the law on the issues of domestic violence and immigration control including the right to financial support for women whose relationships have broken down due to violence.