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Staying in the UK on a visa after a divorce

This advice applies to Wales

If you’re in the UK as a dependant on your partner’s visa, you’ll lose your visa status once you separate or divorce. You’ll need to check your eligibility to stay in the UK, and apply for a new visa if you can. If you’re not eligible to stay in the UK you might have to leave.

You and your partner both need to tell the Home Office that you’re separating or divorcing. Visa applications you make in the future could be affected if you don’t.

You should get help from a specialist legal adviser, who’ll be able to advise you based on your individual circumstances. You can:

Settle in the UK by yourself

You can check if you’re eligible to settle in the UK (also known as getting ‘indefinite leave to remain’) on GOV.UK.

If you can settle in the UK yourself, then this is probably the best option to take. If you’re eligible, you’ll be able to stay in the UK independently from your partner.

If you have children in the UK

One option for staying in the UK is called the ‘parent route’ - you might be eligible if you have children who live in the UK. This is a common way for parents to be able to live in the UK after they’re separated or divorced.

There are various conditions that you’ll have to meet to be able to stay in the UK as a parent. If you want to know more about the detail, read the eligibility of parent routes and how to apply at GOV.UK.

A specialist legal adviser can help with your application.

Switch to a work visa if you’re employed

It might be possible to get a work visa through your employer - the actual category is a ‘Tier 2 (General)’ visa. Your job will have to be on the ‘shortage occupation list’, which you can check on GOV.UK.

This can be a complex process but it’s a possible route to staying in the UK, especially if you work for a large organisation. The best thing to do is talk to your employer to see if they will sponsor you.

Read more about Tier 2 (General) visas at GOV.UK.

You'll have to remain in your job to keep this visa. It will be also be 5 years before you can settle by yourself. So it’s best to check if you’re eligible to settle before you try to get a visa through your employer.

Other ways of staying

There are other ways of getting a visa if you’ve been living in the UK for a long time. These routes are called ‘private life in the UK’, for example if:

  • you’ve lived continuously in the UK for at least 20 years
  • you’re under 18 and have lived continuously in the UK for at least seven years
  • you’re between 18 and 24, and have spent at least half your life living continuously in the UK
  • you’re over 18 and have no ties with the country that you’d have to return to - this means you need to have no social, cultural or family ties with that country

Any time you’ve spent in prison won’t count towards the above amounts.

The best thing to do is talk to a specialist immigration adviser about staying in the UK.

Read more about ‘private life in the UK’ visas at GOV.UK.

If you’ve experienced domestic abuse

If your relationship has broken down because of domestic violence, you’ll usually be able to apply to settle in the UK (also known as getting ‘indefinite leave to remain’).

It’s very important that you get specialist legal advice if you’ve experienced domestic violence and you’re concerned that separating from your partner will affect your visa status. You might be able to get Legal Aid to help pay for the specialist - they’ll be able to advise you on this.

Read more about help and support that you can get if you’ve experienced violence or abuse.

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