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What happens to your UK Visa when you separate or divorce?

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July 9, 2024

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You must tell the Home Office when you divorce or separate from your partner if your visa is based on your relationship either as a partner or as a dependent.

If you are a partner, then normally this means that your UK based sponsor is a British Citizen or holds Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Settled Status  under the EU Settlement Scheme. 

If you are a dependent visa holder, then this normally means that your partner is the main visa applicant, and you are in the UK as their dependent. You may have come together or joined them at a later date. The type of visa that the main applicant holds is often a Skilled Worker visa (work permit) or another type of work visa that permits employment and self employment activities. 

Your UK visa is based on your relationship if you have permission to stay in the UK for a limited period of  time as:

  • dependent on your partner’s UK visa – This type of visa can be under the Skilled Worker route or any other type of work visa. 
  • a spouse or partner on a UK family visa – This type of visa is granted where the sponsor is a British Citizen or a Permanent resident of the UK. You may be married , unmarried partners or civil partners. 
  • Your visa may also be based on your relationship if you have an EU Settlement Scheme family permit or pre-settled status as the dependant of an EU national.

If your relationship has broken down then  you will have to either apply to stay in the UK under another visa category or leave and return back to your home country. The Home Office will notify you by post and/or email. You are normally granted 60 days to make arrangements to remain in the UK or go back home. 

The same rules will apply if your ex-partner’s visa is based on your relationship – for example they are your sponsor or they are your dependant. 

What will happen to my UK Visa?

If you are in the UK on a Partner Visa (Spouse / Civil Partner / Unmarried Partner) or as a dependant of a Skilled Worker Visa holder and you separate/ divorce from your spouse or partner, you will be subject to a Visa curtailment which means that your visa validity period will be cut short by the Home Office once they become aware of your relationship status and take action.

This is because your UK visa is only valid as long as your relationship is genuine and subsisting. If your relationship with your partner ends, you are no longer eligible to remain in the UK on your visa, and you may have to make alternative arrangements to stay here.

The Home Office usually allows 60 days for Visa holders going through a separation /  divorce to make arrangements to leave or remain in the UK. You must make the Home Office aware as early as possible that your relationship has ended. In most cases it is the sponsor or main visa holder that will contact us to inform the Home Office that their relationship has broken down.

Overstaying on a cancelled Visa, after your 60 day grace period ends, can have serious legal consequences in the long run, including being classed as an overstayer,  convicted of immigration fraud, immediate deportation and being barred from reapplying to the UK. If you are working then you can lose your job as well as employers are not permitted to retain staff that have no valid UK visa. 

As a Sponsor can I tell the Home Office that my relationship has broken down?

Yes you can. In the majority of such cases, it is the UK Sponsor that informs the Home office of the breakdown in the relationship. The UK Sponsor has a legal duty to inform the Home Office of the breakdown and this is where we can step in to help them.

How can JPS Immigration Lawyers help me?

JPS Immigration Lawyers can inform the Home Office on your behalf by:

  • Ensuring that the correct forms have been completed
  • Drafting a covering letter to explain , where required, why the relationship has broken down
  • If children are involved, then we can inform the Home Office
  • Monitor correspondence between you and the Home Office

What if we decide to get back together?

If you decide to get back together after the Home Office has been informed that you’re separating or getting divorced, then we will need to update the Home Office. We will explain to them the reasons for why you are back together and ensure that your relationship is credible so that the Home Office can reinstate your Visa conditions including your right to work.

Can I stay in the UK if my relationship has ended?

If your UK visa is based on a relationship that’s ended you must apply for another visa  if you want to stay in the UK. 

You must apply as soon as possible after the relationship breaks down. We advise that you do not wait until your current visa expires. We can assist with this type of application as well. 

How can I apply to stay in the UK?

You may be able to apply for a new visa within the 60 day period, for example:

  • a work visa – You may have an employer that holds a Sponsor License and you meet the Skilled worker rules.
  • as a parent of a child who’s British, settled in the UK or has lived in the UK for at least 7 years
  • based on your private life in the UK, for example you’ve lived in the UK for a long time

Or you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain or ILR’). Check if you can settle in the UK:

  • if your relationship has broken down because of domestic violence or abuse
  • If  you’ve lived in the UK for 10 years (long residence rules)

Getting indefinite leave to remain means you can live, work, study or claim benefits in the UK without time restrictions. You can use ILR status to become a British citizen, if you are eligible.

JPS Immigration lawyers can assist you with contacting the Home Office and ensuring that all communications are written and sent in line with UK government guidelines.

Was this helpful? Contact us today.

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