If your leave to remain is based on marriage or a long-term relationship with a UK settled sponsor, can you secure a UK visa after divorce and permission to stay in the UK? Put simply, there are implications for your spouse visa after divorce or separation.
In the guide for spouse and dependant visa holders, we consider your options to remain in the UK lawfully following relationship breakdown.
Notifying the Home Office
If your visa is contingent on a genuine and subsisting relationship to a British citizen or a person with UK settled status (your ‘sponsor’), you have to notify the Home Office that your circumstances have changed and your relationship has permanently broken down.
This applies if you have a family visa as a spouse or partner, or if you are a dependant on a former partner’s visa and in some cases if you have a family permit.
You should not wait until the divorce is finalised to do this.
The Home Office should be notified of the relationship breakdown either by you or your ex-partner. You can do this by emailing UKVI’s Marriage Curtailment Team on StatusReviewUnit@homeoffice.gov.uk using the subject line: ‘MARRIAGE BREAKDOWN’, or by sending a letter to the UKVI Marriage Breakdown Status Review Unit, 7th Floor, The Capital, New Hall Place, Liverpool, L3 9PP.
You will need to include the following information about you and your former partner:
- Your details:
- Date of birth
- Current address
- Passport number
- Home Office reference number
- Your ex-partner’s:
- Date of birth
- Current address
- Passport number
- Home Office reference number If you or your ex-partner have children in the UK, you must also include:
- If you have any children:
- Dates of birth
- Names of their parents or guardians
- Names of who the people they live with
- Details of any child arrangements such as how much time they spend with you or your ex-partner
- Details of any financial arrangement for child maintenance
- Details of any family court case
The notification also needs to include either a signed public statement or signed consent form. Use the public statement if you want the details from your notification to be kept confidential and not shared with your ex-partner. Use the consent form if you are happy for the details in your email to be shared by the Home Office with your ex.
You should attach a scan or image of the signed form to your email, or enclose a signed copy with the letter if submitting by post.
Following receipt of the notification, the Home Office will contact your ex-partner using the address you have provided for them.
Once the Home Office has been notified of the separation, the visa holder’s period of leave will in most cases be curtailed to 60 days. The relationship breakdown means you will no longer be meeting the visa requirements, and you will not be allowed to continue living in the UK beyond the period of leave under your curtailed visa.
The curtailment period is to allow the visa holder time to decide on their options – either to apply for a different visa to retain lawful status or to leave the UK.
An exception to the 60-day curtailment rule could apply if:
- The are fewer than 60 days remaining on their visa, in which case this expiry date will continue to apply; or
- If exceptional circumstances justify the leave being curtailed with immediate effect; or
- If exceptional circumstances justify the leave being curtailed with more than 60 days.
Immediate curtailment can result where the visa holder has a record of domestic violence or previous immigration breaches.
Similarly, leave may not, for example, be curtailed if the visa holder has applied for leave on the grounds of being a victim of domestic violence by their sponsor, as evidenced by CID records.
If the visa holder is intending to seek an exception to curtailment, they will need to provide the details within their Home Office notification for a decision to be made on the period of curtailment.
Visa options when you separate or divorce
Your visa options to stay in the UK will depend on your circumstances. Each route will require you to meet specific requirements. If applying to ‘switch’ to a different visa category, it is recommended to take advice as there are restrictions on switching routes. Some of the possible immigration routes include:
- Indefinite leave to remain if you have more than 5 years’ continuous residence with lawful immigration status.
- Work visa such as the Skilled Worker visa if you meet the sponsorship, skill, salary and language requirements.
- Parent route if you have a child (or children) who is British or UK settled and has lived in the UK for at least 7 years.
- Based on your private life if you are:
- between 18 and 24 and you’ve lived continuously in the UK for more than half your life, or
- 18 or over and have spent less than 20 years in the UK and would have very significant problems living in the country you would have to return to,
- or 25 or over and you’ve been in the UK continuously for 20 years.
- Retained Right of Residence (see below)
- Other types of visa – taking professional advice will help you consider all possible routes to remain in the UK based on your specific circumstances and the visa categories currently available to you.
Retained Right of Residence
Non-EEA nationals previously dependent on an EEA family member may able to retain the Right to Reside in the UK if the relationship breaks down, provided specific criteria are met.
If you have custody or a right of access to a child you have with your EEA national former partner, you may be eligible to apply for a Retained Rights of Residence on this basis.
The Right to Reside may apply if you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and you started living in the UK with the close family member before 1 January 2021.
The Right to Reside applies to those in the UK who are:
- registered as a jobseeker
- a student
- someone with permanent residence status
Among those eligible for the Right to Reside are “close family members” of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen with the right to reside. Close family members include a husband, wife or civil partner. To retain the right of residence as a former spouse or civil partner of a sponsoring EEA national, the marriage or civil partnership must have lasted for at least three years and you will need to prove divorce or dissolution proceedings have been started.
If the relationship has broken down acrimoniously, the biggest hurdle may be securing the cooperation of your former partner to provide the original evidence to support your Retained Right of Residence application. The Home Office does have powers to exercise discretion, particularly where the case involves domestic violence. This could involve seeking alternative documentation, such as court or police documents evidencing the criminal proceedings.
If you have Retained Right of Residence and already have a registration certificate, it will be valid until 30 June 2021. You can use it to prove you have the right to live in the UK until this date and your status will remain the same until 30 June 2021. To continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021, you must register under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Contact us to speak with our UK immigration specialists about your options to remain in the UK after separation or divorce.
Spouse visa after divorce FAQs
What happens to spouse visa after divorce?
You have to notify the Home Office if you are separating from your spouse. Your spouse visa will be curtailed and you will either have to apply for leave to remain under a different route or leave the UK.
How long can I stay in UK after divorce?
In most cases, after notifying the Home Office of the separation, your spouse visa will be curtailed to 60 days. You should use this time to apply for leave to remain or to leave the country.
Can I cancel my husband’s spouse visa?
The Home Office must be informed either by the UK settled spouse or the spouse visa holder of the relationship breakdown.
Can indefinite leave to remain be cancelled after divorce?
ILR is not dependant on your relationship. If you already have ILR, your status will not be affected by divorce.
Last updated: 21 November 2022