Domestic Violence and Refugee Spouses
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor LinkedinDanielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
It is recognised that a foreign national spouse who has suffered domestic violence during the “probationary periods” of leave had a stark choice. Either she left the relationship and faced removal because the relationship were no longer subsisting, or she stayed in the abusive relationship until she can apply for indefinite leave to remain. However, in 1999 a concession was introduced. By virtue of this concession the applicant required instead of completing a probationary period to prove that they were the victim of domestic abuse. The Domestic Violence concession originally imposed stringent evidential requirements on applicants seeking to take advantage of it. They had to produce either an injunction or conviction or a police caution. In 2002 the evidential requirements were relaxed and the concession became part of the Rules themselves.
In 2005 a further change took place. Some refugees were permitted to sponsor their spouses despite the fact that they were not settled themselves, and the spouses were given limited leave to remain in line with the refugee. However, there was no provision for the spouse who suffered domestic violence and was married to a refugee, because there was no probationary period for him or her to complete. The terms of the Domestic Violence concession and thereafter the Rules were limited to the spouses of British citizens and persons who are settled. However, the decision of 27th May 2016 in A –v- SSHD  held that excluding the spouse of a refugee from the domestic violence concession is discriminatory because it discriminates against such spouses in violation of Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Although an application for leave to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court has been lodged by the Secretary of State we remain hopeful that he challenge will result in a change to the Rules which will give spouses of the refugees who suffer domestic violence the very same protection they deserve and which is afforded to the spouses of British citizens and persons settled in the UK.
In the meantime if issues of Domestic Violence affects you, we will submit your application, arguing that a decision by the Secretary of State should not be made until such time as a final decision in relation to the above case has been handed down. Contact Us.