Immigration – When Prince Charming becomes a Frog

british flagmapThere is no denying that UK immigration rules and laws are making it more and more difficult for non-European people to study, work or live permanently in the UK.

What is becoming more and more clear, is that the Coalition government that we now have in the UK is committed to attracting high net worth individuals to the UK.  There is an icy cold-shoulder for those who do not fall into the tick box scenario of a budding entrepreneur or a millionaire businessman.

However, one area that the UK immigration laws can be commended is in relation to victims of domestic violence.  Many people who come to the UK come to join their spouse and they have all the aspirations of a happy marriage in a wealthy first world country.

Unfortunately, there are occasions when the non-UK spouse (typically the wife) realizes too late that her husband is actually a violent perpetrator.  It has to be said that the UK has been making great strides in taking domestic violence very seriously.  Most recently,  the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme known as “Clares Law” was set up to allow women to enquire about whether their partner has a violent past.  This is a vitally important tool that can be used by women who are already in a relationship and need to know whether their partner has a history of violence.

But what about women who come to the UK and are unfamiliar with such schemes and domestic violence organisations?  Often times, we hear from women who are too scared to take steps against their husband as he may have threatened them with deportation if she speaks out.

domestic violenceWe understand this uncertainty and fear.  It does seem probable.  Many believe that if you have come to the UK with your spouse you will be forced to return to your home country if the marriage ends.  Many people have given up everything in their home country and it is just not realistic for them to return there.  Also, they have already left their home country on the basis that they are going to the UK to be married.  The humiliation of returning as a divorcee is overbearing.  In many cases, women decide that remaining in a violent marriage is somehow better than becoming the shame of the community.

So what are the options?

If you feel that you may be the victim of domestic violence, you should get help straight away.  This could be from a local domestic violence agency, or from the domestic violence unit at your local police station.  If your life or safety is in imminent risk you should contact the police on the emergency phone number 999.

In respect of your immigration status, the UK Border Agency does not expect someone who is a victim of domestic violence to remain in the  relationship.  The law does allow for a victim of domestic violence to make an application to live in the UK even though s/he will not stay married or continue to live with their spouse.

An application should be made straightaway so that the Border Agency has the most up to date information.  Evidence will need to be gathered to support the application.

It’s also useful to know that you may be eligible for an exemption from the application fee if you can prove that you are destitute.

So if you are caught in this situation.  Don’t wait another minute. Get help now. You’re worth it…

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Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  She is also a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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 Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos