Can I stay in the UK if I divorce on indefinite leave to remain?
Divorce after indefinite leave to remain (ILR) does not mean you have to leave the UK – ILR is a form of settled status independent of your partner and divorce will not affect your stay in the UK.
If you have been granted indefinite leave to remain, divorcing your partner will not impact your settled status and you can stay in the UK independently.
To understand whether your leave to remain is dependent on your relationship status, you should examine the conditions of your stay when your visa was granted (e.g., if you hold a Spouse Visa or some other form of Family Visa).
It is not a requirement of indefinite leave to remain to be in a relationship, therefore, if you divorce, you will be able to remain.
The number of years of residence required to obtain indefinite leave to remain will depend on the conditions of your current immigration permission.
In most cases, if an individual on a Spouse Visa divorces their partner, they will likely be required to leave the UK (with some exceptions outlined below).
Spouse Visa conditions
Applying for a Spouse Visa can be a very difficult and complex process. Coming to live with your loved one in the UK is a major decision and it is important to abide by the conditions of stay of your visa.
A Spouse Visa is granted based on the relationship you have with your partner. You are required to show that the relationship is ‘genuine and subsisting,’ and that you intend to live together permanently.
Unfortunately, sometimes relationships come to an end and partners choose to divorce each other. For many people, if they do not have a valid form of leave or qualify for a mitigating circumstance, this means that the individual may be required to leave the UK.
The reason why an individual cannot stay in the country after divorce when they hold a Spouse Visa is to prevent ‘sham marriages’ from taking place.
Can you lose your Spouse Visa?
Yes, your Spouse Visa can be revoked for a number of reasons. One common reason is the breakdown of your relationship with your partner.
However, there are some options if you are divorcing your partner and you (a) are not a British citizen or (b) do not hold indefinite leave to remain.
You are required to inform the Home Office immediately about the breakdown in the relationship. If you do not, you will be at risk of future immigration applications being denied.
If you are eligible, you may be able to switch to an alternative visa route. You may be able to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa if you find an eligible job position with an organisation holding a valid Sponsor Licence.
Alternatively, if you can demonstrate that you have lived in the UK for at least ten years, you may be eligible to independently apply for indefinite leave to remain.
There is also a possibility to apply for leave to remain (ILR) based on a domestic violence application. If you have suffered from domestic violence as the partner of a British citizen or person with settled status, you may be eligible to apply for ILR.
A further option that may be applicable to your case is qualifying under the Family Life rule.
This is not a guaranteed route, but depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible to apply on the basis that you are the parent of one or more British or settled children.
Indefinite leave to remain conditions
Applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK is the goal of many people who wish to hold more permanent residency rights.
The advantage of holding ILR is that you are no longer dependent on another person or entity (i.e., a spouse or fiancé) or an organisation (i.e., a business that sponsors you for employment purposes).
To be eligible for ILR, an individual must provide evidence that they have been living lawfully in the UK for a specific period of time and have no disqualifying absences.
As well as this, it is essential to hold a Life in the UK test and prove that your English language skills are at least at B1 level on the CEFR scale.
Can you lose indefinite leave to remain?
Yes, it is possible to lose your indefinite leave to remain status if you breach the conditions of the stay. Although ILR confers the holder with additional rights and protections, it is not a permanent status like British citizenship.
If an individual is absent from the UK for at least two consecutive years, in most cases ILR will automatically lapse.
If ILR has lapsed for this reason and a person applies as a returning resident, the following factors may be used to consider whether to reinstate ILR:
- The strength and nature of the individual’s ties to the UK
- The length of the original residence in the UK
- The length of time spent outside the UK and the circumstances for staying abroad
- Whether they are willing to continue living in the UK permanently
- Other relevant compelling factors
It may be the case that the individual does not realise their leave has relapsed until they are at a UK border where they may be refused entry and returned to their country of origin.
Other ways that a person can lose their ILR (and may be required to leave the UK) is if ILR is revoked (due to the individual being liable for deportation, if they are no longer deemed a refugee by reason of their own actions, or where they have obtained ILR by deception).
Further, if an individual is deported from the UK, their ILR may be invalidated.
How can your lawyers help me?
Working with an immigration lawyer can bring numerous benefits. All our lawyers are experts in immigration law and understand how complex and important your case is.
We work with you to provide accurate professional guidance on all UK visa applications and give you a detailed checklist of the documents you need to submit (including a comprehensive indefinite leave to remain document checklist).
By undertaking an eligibility check, we can establish the best immigration route based on your circumstances.
If you have been detained or placed on immigration bail, we are available to speak with you urgently and provide assistance and support.
Some of the other services we provide include:
- Writing a letter of representation to highlight the merits of your case and outline why your visa application should be approved
- Liaising with the Home Office on your behalf throughout the process and keeping you up to date on the progress of your case
- Completing your visa application to the highest standard to maximise your chances of a successful decision
By working on a one-to-one basis with your dedicated immigration adviser, you will be able to make an informed decision about what option is best for you.
Call 0121 667 4593 today for immediate help and support with your case. Our friendly advisers are waiting to speak with you.
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