Domestic Violence

Applying for permission to settle here as a victim of domestic violence

If your relationship with a British citizen or a person settled in the UK has broken down as a result of domestic violence, you may be able to apply for permission to settle here permanently.

To be given permission to settle as a victim of domestic violence, you must prove that:

  • you have been given permission to enter or remain in the UK as the husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner of a British citizen or a person settled here (even if that permission is no longer valid);
  • your relationship was existing and genuine (not a ‘marriage of convenience’, for example) when you were last given permission to enter or remain; and
  • you were the victim of domestic violence, and this is what caused the relationship to break down before the end of your permission to enter or remain.





An applicant needs to produce evidence that he/she suffered violence from his/her spouse, civil partner, same-sex or unmarried partner during the probationary period, and to show that this violence was the cause of the breakdown of the marriage during this period.  Section DVILR does not specify what evidence is needed.

Home Office guidance generally indicates that this preferably should take the form of:

  • an injunction
  • a non-molestation or other protection order (other than an ex parte or interim order)
  • a relevant court conviction
  • full details of any relevant police caution, showing the partner’s full name, date of birth, nationality, address at the time of the incident(s) (and at the time of application, if it has changed), as well as the date, time and place where the incident occurred.

Applicants who are unable to produce this evidence may nonetheless be accepted if they can show at least two documents from a separate list, which comprises:

  • a medical report from a hospital doctor or a letter from a family practitioner confirming that their injuries are consistent with being a victim of domestic violence. This can include psychological damage.
  • an undertaking given to a court that the partner will not approach the applicant
  • a police report confirming attendance at the then marital address because of a domestic violence incident
  • a letter from a Social Services department confirming its involvement in connection with domestic violence towards the applicant
  • a letter of support or report from one of the men’s or women’s refuges or a domestic violence support organisation.

In JL [2006] UKAIT 00058 the Tribunal held that an Immigration Judge was not confined in an appeal to the evidence required by the SSHD as referred to in the Immigration Directorate Instructions, nor is an appeal bound to fail if the “required” evidence had not been produced. The question of whether domestic violence had occurred was to be determined on the basis of the evidence. In AI [2007] EWCA Civ 386 the Court of Appeal confirmed that an Immigration Judge had a discretion under paragraph 289A(iv) of HC 395, and that it should be construed to enable people whose relationships have broken down permanently as a result of domestic violence before the end of a probationary period to be granted ILR. The IDIs provided strong guidance to case-workers, but were not intended to be prescriptive.

Medical evidence can cover psychological as well as physical harm. The 2004 Home Office definition of domestic violence is “any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality… Domestic violence can go beyond actual physical violence. It can also involve emotional abuse, the destruction of a spouse’s or partner’s property, their isolating from friends, family or other potential sources of support, control over access to money, personal items, food, transportation, and the telephone and stalking.”

It also recognized that there could be a pattern over a time of using threats or force to frighten the victim and to control their behaviour, and that there were specific issues facing black and minority ethnic communities.

Domestic violence applications and applying for indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

This category is for people who have limited leave to enter or remain, or have an extension of stay, in the UK as the spouse, unmarried partner, registered civil partner or same-sex partner of a British citizen or person present and settled in the UK. It allows those whose relationship has genuinely broken down, because they are the subject of domestic violence, during their probationary period of leave, to be granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

We have extensive experience under this category and have supported clients up to the Tribunal to secure their indefinite leave to remain. 

Call our team on 0207 237 3388 or e-mail us your query on info@icslegal.com. To get a assessment on whether you meet the requirements under this category, complete the assessment form by clicking here

Domestic violence is classed as any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. An adult is someone who is 18 years or over.

Why ICS Legal For SET (DV) Application – ILR As A Victim Of Domestic Violence?
ICS Legal are experts in dealing with application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as a victim of domestic violence. The quality of our service is self-evident from the reviews of our clients about the service provided by our immigration lawyers. You can contact us if you are seeking legal help from immigration lawyers in London in relation to your ILR application as a victim of domestic violence and our UK Immigration Lawyers will provide you fast, friendly, reliable and professional immigration service.

Family members, whether directly related, in-laws or step-family, are defined as

  • mother;
  • father;
  • son;
  • daughter;
  • brother;
  • sister, and
  • grandparents.

The legal definition of injury is when any harm is done to a person by the acts or omissions of another.

Knowledge of language and life is not required under the victims of domestic violence rules. Applicants who can prove they are destitute are exempt from paying the application fee for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence.

There is provision in section DVILR for partners of British Citizens and persons settled here who have been the victim of domestic violence during the probationary period to apply for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence.

Requirements For ILR As A Victim Of Domestic Violence
The requirements to be met for indefinite leave to remain in the UK as a victim of domestic violence are that:

  • the applicant must be in the UK;
  • the applicant must have made a valid application for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence;
  • the applicant must not fall for refusal under any of the grounds in Section S-LTR: Suitability-leave to remain; and
  • the applicant must meet all of the requirements of Section E-DVILR: Eligibility for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence.

If the applicant does not meet the requirements for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence only because the applicant has an unspent conviction the applicant will be granted further limited leave to remain for a period not exceeding 30 months under D-DVILR.1.2.

Frequently asked questions?

  1. Who is allowed to apply for settlement as a victim of domestic violence? Only someone who was previously admitted to, or granted limited leave in the UK as the spouse/civil partner/same-sex partner/unmarried partner of a British citizen or a person settled in the UK is able to qualify for settlement as the victim of domestic violence.
  2. Why is it only open to those here as the spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner? The “domestic violence rule” was introduced with the intention of ensuring that someone with a direct route to settlement in the UK as the spouse or partner of a British Citizen or settled person, would not have to remain in an abusive relationship to secure it.
  3. The rule was not introduced as a means to grant settlement to all foreign nationals who have suffered domestic violence whilst in the UK, nor should it be seen as a measure to compensate those foreign nationals affected by domestic violence.
  4. When should I submit my application? Your application should be submitted as soon as is practicably possible after your marriage has broken down as a result of domestic violence. You do not need to wait until the expiry of your current leave. It is in your best interests to apply as early as possible so that we can deal with recent/up to date evidence.
  5. Can I apply even if my leave has expired? Settlement can be granted to someone who submits their application “out of time”, i.e. after the date on which their current leave to remain expires. However, any decision to refuse an out of time application will not carry a right of appeal (under Section 82 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002).
  6. What if I cannot afford to pay the fee for my application? Those who are deemed to be destitute do not need to pay the application fee. If you are unable to provide satisfactory evidence that you are destitute, and therefore entitled to a fee waiver, your application will not be valid and will be returned to you.
  7. Can I apply outside of the UK? No. A person can only apply for settlement as the victim of domestic violence whilst they are present in the UK.
  8. What evidence do I need to produce? You need to produce documentary evidence to satisfy us that you are a victim of domestic violence. You should provide evidence from independent objective sources. There is no prescriptive list of evidence which should be provided documents should be original copies. It is important that where you cannot provide documents, that you provide a full written explanation as to why.Where it is clear that other parties were involved in the evidence that you submit, we will require independent verification of these incidents (e.g. from the police, G.P.) Therefore any reference to other parties should be accompanied by an official report so that the application can be assessed quickly. Similarly, you should also indicate where an incident cannot be verified by another party.
  9. What if I am unable to produce any of the suggested documents? You should try to produce as much documentary evidence to support your application as possible. Where you are unable to produce any of the suggested documents, you must provide a written explanation giving reasons why you are unable to do so.
  10. Where should I submit my application? The  application must be submitted by prepaid post to the address given on the application form.
  11. Can I apply in a public enquiry office? No. The premium service at the Public Enquiry Offices is not available for SET(DV) applications.

Getting help and support

What support is there available for victims of domestic violence?

Phone lines for help and advice on domestic violence include:

  • The 24 hour Freephone National Domestic Violence helpline: 0808 2000 247, run in partnership with Women’s Aid and Refuge.
  • Northern Ireland Women’s Aid 24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 028 9033 1818.
  • Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 027 1234.
  • Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 80 10 800.
  • Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327.

We have dealt with 000’s of applications under this category, we know what you go through and sometimes you need to be reassured that your status will not get impacted, 100% confidential legal advice. Call us today on 0207 237 3388 or complete our contact form, by clicking here