Cases of domestic abuse where either one or both partners are Foreign and Commonwealth nationals can impact on their immigration status and the right to reside in the UK; this is a very complicated issue. Specialist military welfare providers are experienced in managing these cases and should be contacted for help and support. Royal Navy Royal Marines (RN RM) Welfare, Army Welfare Service and SSAFA Personal Support and Social Work Service (RAF) work to a specific code of confidentiality, in accordance with legal requirements, which would be explained during any initial contact. Further information on these welfare providers is detailed in the ‘Information for Victims’ section.
Additional Information on Visa Application
Non-British spouses of armed forces personnel may be dependent on their partner for their immigration status. In abusive relationships this reliance can be used as a threat to silence the victim. Cases of domestic abuse where either one or both partners are Foreign and Commonwealth nationals can impact on their immigration status and the right to reside in the UK; this is a very complicated issue.
When a victim of domestic abuse is not a British citizen it is important to seek qualified immigration advice as soon as possible after a relationship has broken down rather than wait until their current visa has expired. When the perpetrator is residing in the UK on a dependant’s visa, a breakdown in the relationship will mean their visa is no longer valid and as a dependant of a service person and on expiry of that visa they will most likely have to return to their country of origin.
Domestic abuse victims (and their children) who are subject to UK immigration controls, may be eligible for settlement or indefinite leave to remain (ILR) if they have experienced domestic abuse as the partner of a British citizen, a person settled in the UK, or a foreign or Commonwealth member of the armed forces who has served for at least 4 years. The Domestic Violence Concession allows domestic abuse victims to apply for settlement (ILR) in their own right, enabling access to UK state support. Spouses or partners of service personnel who are not British citizens or have not settled in the UK and who have not yet served for 4 years are not eligible for leave to remain under the domestic violence provisions. They would need to take Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) accredited advice on whether they were eligible to remain for other reasons.
Any victim of domestic abuse who intends to apply for ILR should seek qualified immigration advice before submitting an application. The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) has a register of regulated immigration advisers, including those who do not charge clients for advice or services; the register can be found here. More information on this process, including the eligibility of children, can be found here.
Support and Further Information
There are a number of support programmes and sources of information that may be of help to the Foreign and Commonwealth community. The main ones are detailed below.
Southall Black Sisters. Southall Black Sisters was established to meet the needs of Black (Asian and African-Caribbean) women. Their aim is to highlight and challenge all forms of gender related violence against women, and also to empower them to gain more control over their lives. They can offer specialist advice, information, casework, advocacy, counselling and self-help support services in several community languages, especially South Asian languages. Although their focus is on the needs of black and minority women, they will not turn any woman away who needs emergency help. For more information go to Southall Black Sisters.
Shakti Women’s Aid. Shakti Women’s Aid is a Scottish charity that provides help for black minority ethnic (BME) women, children and young people who are experiencing, or who have experienced domestic abuse. For more information, including support in other languages go to Shakti Women’s Aid.
Translated Documents. Some support websites will have a translation facility; a couple of useful examples are detailed below. These documents are key to Foreign and Commonwealth victims who do not have English as a first language. The main charities will also have access to interpreters.
- Nepalese Booklet. The attached document has been developed by North East Hampshire Domestic Abuse Forum to support and inform the Nepalese Community: Domestic and Sexual Abuse (Nepalese Booklet)
- Women’s Aid – Survivors Handbook. The Survivors Handbook has been abbreviated and translated into a number of languages, detailed here.
- Three Steps to Escaping Domestic Violence. The government leaflet ‘Three Steps to Escaping Domestic Violence’ has been translated into a number of languages which are detailed here.