Apart from the obvious emotional distress that a couple endures in the lead-up to divorce, often one of the parties has the added stress of his or her UK Immigration status being jeopardised by the breakdown of the relationship.
Criteria for Retaining Rights of Residence
In cases where a person (non-EEA national) has a dependency visa based on the relationship with the EEA national, and the relationship breaks down, the person can retain their right of residence if they fulfil certain very strict criteria. These include the following:
The marriage must have lasted for at least three years from the date of marriage to the date of divorce
The EEA national needs to have been in the UK and exercising their EEA rights of residence in the UK on the date of the divorce
The non-EEA national needs to be employed or self-employed on the date of the divorce
The couple must have been living together for at least a year during their marriage.
Should the criteria mentioned above not be fulfilled, the non-EEA national will have to qualify and apply for a UK Visa in his/her own right.
Sadly, domestic violence is also no stranger to our society. The UK Immigration rules make provision in such cases, and the non-EEA national need not stay in a violent relationship in order to remain in the UK.
The victim need not wait until the current leave in the UK expires before applying under this rule. It is recommended that the victim of the domestic violence apply under the Domestic Violence Rule as early as possible. This way the UK Home Office can deal with recent and up to date evidence. Important to keep in mind is that the application has to be lodged from within the UK.