Question: Hello, I was previously on a spousal visa here in the UK being married to a British citizen. My visa expired last February 2014.
The Answer from Solicitors online
I had been married since November 2011, my marriage registration was done in Blackburn. During these 2 years of marriage, I experienced a substantial amount of psychological, verbal and at times even physical abuse. My partner was given a police caution for assault in September 2013. When my spousal visa came to an end, I was suppose to make an application for indefinite leave to remain.
However this application required my husband to sign some paperwork. I also had to enclose his passport along with my own when submitting the application form. I even took the life in the UK test and obtained a passing score. Anyways after having completed the application form for ILR entirely, and having enclosed all the required documents, my husband told me with utmost assurance that he would sign the application, and post it off for me. He even told me to put his bank account details on the application form so that the home office would take the fee from his account. In the following 2 months after, we moved to a different address and my husband approached me saying that the home office had sent an acknowledgment letter to our old address, and that they had taken out the application fee from his account. Obviously him being my partner, I trusted him in good faith that he was being honest and that he would have sorted it for me, just like he said he would.
In the following months, I asked my partner several times to show me this acknowledgment letter from the home office which he claimed to have collected from our old address. The first time I asked him to give me this letter, he manipulatively said he forgot it in his drawer at work. I asked him exactly one month after and this time he said he had brought it home the day before, and left it on top of the microwave. He tried convincing me that I must have accidently thrown it out with other rubbish while cleaning. Then after about 6 weeks when I brought up the subject of the acknowledgment letter again, this time he said he had already given it to me over the summer while I was visiting his parents house for a few weeks. It never ever once occurred to me that this man could be lying about this, what I simply thought was that he must have misplaced this letter somewhere and was afraid to admit that. I never in my wildest dreams could imagine that he was wrongfully withholding my application and passport and had never sent it off to begin with. He was so manipulative that he even managed to convince me that the home office do not allow people to ring up and enquire about the status of their application. He told me that I had to wait for further correspondence from them. Anyways 6-7 months passed, and this whole time I was being deceived about my application being with the home office, yet I still had no idea about the truth. It was only about 1 month ago when social services got involved with us because of DV issues, that my social worker pushed me to call the home office and find out about my application, and whether I was entitled to public funds. And to my horror, it was only when i called the home office myself that I found out that they never received my application to begin with. This was the first time that this horrific truth was revealed to me.
Since then I have managed to seek the help and support of a women’s aid organisation known as aanchal, who helped me get a non molestation order against my ex partner with the help of their family law solicitor. I must also add that this same organisation referred my case to social services, because I had approached them beforehand to get some help and support related to the domestic abuse in my relationship. This non molestation order was obtained ex parte, based on the evidence that I provided to the court in all honesty. The second hearing to see whether or not this order should continue is scheduled in 2 weeks time. Since being served with the order, my ex partner has left the property and is living in other accommodation. Neither of us have contacted each other since then. I would also like to add that I am looking for alternative accommodation for myself and my 2 kids. Aanchal has suggested to me that I try to find a place in a refuge, however I feel that a refuge is not an ideal place for 2 infants, and I would prefer that they were living in private accommodation. Through aanchal, I should be obtaining a biometrics card shortly which they said would entitle me to public funds, and I would need to make my application for indefinite leave to remain through the DDV concession within 3 months. I’ve already done my fingerprinting at a post-office so just waiting for the card to arrive.
Right based on all these events, my ex has written to my solicitor saying that he is willing to accept undertakings in the same terms of the order, but that this is not an admission of any guilt or wrongdoing. He also added that it would be to everyone’s benefit to avoid the legal costs of another trial to contest the order. I feel very strongly about the fact that this non molestation order should stay in place, as my ex’s past behaviour really does meet the threshold of the order. However at this present time I do not qualify for legal aid because my savings in my bank account are in excess of £3,000. I have earmarked this money for when I start privately renting, and when I move to a new flat. But for legal aid purposes this does not meet their criteria.
Right so what I want to ask you is, from an immigration point of view if I wanted to avoid paying legal costs, and having the stress of going to another court hearing, would it weaken my application for ILR under the DDV concession if I was to accept the undertakings? Or would you say that it would be in my best interests to have the next court hearing, and represent myself as I cannot afford to pay this family law solicitor a few thousand pounds to represent me? I was told that if my ex decides to contest the order, that there may even be two court hearings. I will definitely not be able to afford legal representation for 2 hearings. My ex on the other hand is quite well off, and I think he most likely does have the money to contest this order. What really worries me is what kind of malicious evidence he is going to submit in support of contesting the order. He has a history of lying, and manipulating the truth. He has not contacted my solicitor yet in regards to what he plans to use as evidence. But I do know that he is very conniving and is very good at concocting lies and distorting the truth. I also think he may very likely bring in false eye witnesses, especially his parents into court. They have always strongly disliked me, and I am sure that they will have no problems lying to the court about me, anything from which their son could benefit. I would be very grateful if you could please advise me on the best course of action to take. Would it be in the best interests of my DDV application to the home office if the non- molestation order stays? Many thanks,
Hello Thank you for your question. I am doing some research into the law relating to your matter, as this quite a complex matter. I will get back to your shortly, please bear with me, apologies for the delay, I will get back to your shortly with my answer, and if you still have more related questions, you will be able to ask them for free as part of this consultation.
First of all, I would like to thank you for selecting me on Talk2Solicitors.co.uk. I am really sorry to hear the heartache and trouble that you have been through with your ex partner. The key criteria for someone on a DDV concession to be given Indefinite Leave to Remain is 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.
In my opinion, your case easily meets the first two points, as long as you have clearly told the Home Office all the information that you also told me. In regards to the third point, which requires that, you where the victim of domestic violence, which caused your relationship to break down before you, got permission to remain in the UK. This is the key criteria, which you need to prove to the Home Office. If you husband is willing to accept the Undertakings, this does in itself provide evidence that that there were some serious issues in your relationship, even if he does not wish to admit guilt. You still have something quite solid there that I believe the Home Office would respect in regards to your DDV application.
As long as you have the Undertakings in writing and signed by him, in a form that you can submit to the Home Office as evidence, this will definitely, support your application to a strong degree. However in law an Undertaking is not as strong as a non-molestation order, so having a non-molestation order may make your application for indefinite leave to remain just slighter stronger. In the eyes of the law an Undertaking is carries less weight than a non-molestation order. Therefore, if you can find the strength to carry on with the case and resist your husband move to contest the order, I believe you should do. The other disadvantages of an Undertaking that you should be aware of is that they it cannot be enforced and your husband cannot be arrested if he breaks the Undertaking unlike in the case of a non-molestation order.
If you believe that, your husband could psychically attack you again that I would not recommend you accept an Undertaking in any circumstances. As a non-molestation, order provides you with the protection that you need from him, and something, which you can easily call the police about, if he breaches the order. If your ex partner breaks a non-molestation order, he will be in serious trouble, and be arrested and charged straight away. I hope this answers your question. I have three questions for you to clarify my understanding of your case further. Have you already submitted your DDV application to the Home Office for indefinite leave to remain? If so, what evidence did you submit in support of your application? Do you have any other evidence such as medical records, GP appointments or dates and times of when the abuse took place that you have presented to the Home Office as evidence?
Follow up question
Hi Thanks so much for your reply. I haven’t yet submitted my application to the Home office. So far with the help of a domestic violence organisation here in London, they have informed the home office that I intend to make an application under the DDV concession. The home office thereafter sent me a letter instructing me to get my photo and fingerprinting taken at a post office. From what the organisation has explained to me, I should be receiving a biometrics card which will entitle me to access public funds for the next 3 months. During this 3 month time period, I must make a formal application under the ddv concession through a solicitor. The organisation has a solicitor who has agreed to help me with my application in due course. I was going to submit the following pieces of evidence- police caution given to my ex in September 2013; a letter from social services in connection to their involvement because of dv (I must add though, that social services involvement is recent and started in Jan 2015.
My social worker has said that my ex and I should not be living in the same property); I was also planning to use a support letter from the domestic violence organisation that i am currently seeking support and counselling from; I was going to request my GP to provide me with a letter mentioning all my appointments with her in connection to the domestic violence, and the fact that she recommended meantidepressants for my low moods due to the dv. And finally I am hoping that the non molestation order does not get contested, or get reduced to an undertaking at the next hearing. My solicitor is seeking to get the order amended by the court, so as to cancel out the next hearing. She says if the court agrees to this, the order would have to be re-served, and the clause for another hearing would be removed. However she has told me that this does not prevent my ex from contesting the order, and bringing it back to court. I am extremely anxious about having to go into court and being questioned and cross examined. Also I am quite sure that my ex is more than capable of fabricating all kinds of fictitious lies about me, and accusing me falsely. If the court believes his statements, then is it true that he may get asked to agree to an undertaking or both me and him may have to agree to cross undertakings? Also to address the issue of whether our relationship broke down right before my probationary period was over, I will have some explaining to do about that.
At the moment all I have to support that is the police caution. All other evidence is from October 2014 onwards. My spousal visa expired in February 2014. I was 5 months pregnant and unemployed at this time and even before this. My ex had manipulatively taken my entire savings of £10,000 from me back in April 2013. I asked him several times to return this money to me prior to the expiry of this probationary period, but he never did. I therefore had no money to move out, and i was not entitled to access public funds as I was on a spousal visa. Our relationship however had been deteriorating since may 2013. I need to explain that it was because of financial restraints that it was difficult for me to separate from my ex. Then in march 2014 was when he told me with assurance that even though our relationship was struggling, that he would still help me with my indefinite leave to remain application which off course was all a lie. I must mention as well that upon recently finding out that he never sent in my application and passport to the home office, I have reported my passport as stolen with the police and have given my reasons as to why I feel he’s stolen it. Right so based on this, do you have any other advice. I was very pleased with your previous response, found it quite helpful. Many thanks,
Oh one more thing I forgot to add. I stated that my ex has been withholding my entire savings of £10 k from me since April 2013. My parents who live abroad sent me a cash gift of £5,000 back in December. This is why I do not qualify for legal aid at this present time, because I still have most of these funds in my account.
Hello, The evidence that you have for your DDV concession application sounds quite strong. You should also submit any evidence that you have of the current non-molestation order to the Home Office. It does not matter that your ex may contest it, the fact that you have already obtained a non-molestation order will support your application quite significantly. If your ex attempts to contest the order and get it reduced to Undertakings, from the evidence that you have mentioned I do not think he will succeed. So do not be scared by your ex partners threats. As you are the victim of domestic violence, which the Courts and the law take very seriously, so the law is edged in your favour. I understand that you may be extremely anxious about having to go into Court and being questioned and cross-examined. However I would say that you should not let this get to you or scare you, as it is less intimidating then you think. Just remember that you ex partners lawyers cannot hurt you and have no real power whatsoever, all they can do is ask you questions. The Judge is the one who will make the final decision, and you being the victim of domestic violence are more likely to receive more favour from the Judge than your ex partner who is the aggressor in this situation. In regards to your ex stealing your money, this may well be a criminal matter. You should really consider reporting this to the Police. I hope this is clear and make sense. Is that ok or do you still have some unanswered questions?
Follow Up question
Hi, thanks so much for all your help and suggestions. Regarding my £10,000 that my ex has still got, before our relationship began to breakdown he convinced me to transfer this money into one of his interest building accounts. He told me we should save up for a deposit so we could buy a flat, rather than continue renting. This off course was another lie as he never had any intentions of buying a property with me. Every time I would make arrangements for us to go and look at properties to buy, he showed no interest whatsoever or made excuses as to why he couldn’t go to viewings with me. Do you think this could still be a police matter, or would it be a civil matter? Thanks
I also want to thank you for your supportive advice and reassurance about having to go to court. I think I will have to represent myself because I can’t afford representation. About the non molestation order, I was told that it must be a final order, before I can file an indefinite leave to remain application. I was told that if the respondent chooses to contest the order, this could involve a further 2 hearings and could possibly delay my application under the ddv concession. In this case would you suggest that I agree to undertakings, or would you still say I should defend the order even if it involves few court hearings? These are my last questions.
I am really pleased with your website and with the level of advice I received from you. It was much better and more constructive than dropping into a solicitor’s office and paying for a consultation in person. I would definitely recommend you for immigration advice to people I know.
In regards to the stolen money, this sounds like a Criminal matter, to me, but I am not a Criminal Solicitor, so I cannot say 100% on that, but I am quite sure it is. In regards to the non-molestation order, I think in my opinion you should do everything you can to keep the order, as your situation deserves such an order, and by accepting the Undertakings, you somewhat diminish how serious the domestic violence was that you went through. I also believe that it is unlikely that your ex will be able to have your order removed based on the evidence that you have told me. Having a non-molestation order will give you a greater chance of getting a DDV concession compared to having Undertakings.
However, you may still get your DDV concession with Undertakings, instead of a non-molestation order, but it is impossible to accurately predict. Therefore, the safer option is to try to keep the non-molestation order that you have. If you do have to go to Court again and represent yourself. The Judge will understand your situation, as it is becoming more common to see people representing themselves due to the cuts to Legal Aid. I am sure the Judge will be understanding of your situation in having to represent yourself. Also your ex partner may not appeal the order after all, he has a limited time in which to bring his appeal. I believe it is 21 days from the date from which the order was made.
If you need legal advice on DDV concession visas or Domestic Violence you can get legal advice online from one of our Solicitors online right now.