Immigration Corner | I may soon have nowhere to live
I read your column a few weeks ago where you gave advice to someone whose visa was based on a marriage, and that person was heading for a divorce. Could you please tell me what type of visa I may be eligible for? I fear that I may soon have nowhere to live.
With respect to visas that are based on a relationship, when persons separate or divorce, and having advised the Home Office then those persons must either be prepared to leave the United Kingdom, or apply for a different visa to stay in the United Kingdom (UK).
When applying for a different visa, persons should check their eligibility for visas. For example, persons may be able to apply for a work visa; to settle in the UK; as a parent of a child who is British, settled in the UK or has lived in the UK for at least seven years; based on their private life in the United Kingdom, e.g. having lived in the UK for a long time.
If the relationship ended because of domestic violence, persons should check if they can settle in the UK if they have experienced domestic violence as the partner of a: British citizen or person settled in the UK; member of HM Forces who has served for at least four years. It should be noted that a person can report domestic abuse or get help.
It is advisable that a person apply as soon as possible after the relationship breaks down.
In addition, a person can register their 'home rights' with Land Registry. this can help stop the partner from selling the home.
There are different rules if the property is owned jointly with a spouse or civil partner or if persons are not married and are not in a civil partnership. A person cannot apply for home rights if the spouse or civil partner owns the property with someone else unless the spouse or civil partner would get all the money if the property was sold. This is known as being the 'sole beneficial owner'.
Please note that before persons apply for home rights, they will need to know if the property is registered in their partner's name and its title number. This can be ascertained by searching the register to find this information.
When making the application, persons must complete a different application process for home rights depending on whether the property is registered or if the property is unregistered.
With respect to how long a person can stay in the property, a person can usually only live in the property until the divorce, annulment or dissolution has been finalised and a court settlement agreed.
However, a person may be able to continue living in the property for longer, for example, during an ongoing dispute about ownership, or if a court has made a 'continuation order' allowing persons to do this.
In addition, there may be other things that can be done. For instance, persons may be able to take legal action against their partner if they try to make that person move out; stop a move back into a home if not currently living in it, e.g., if that person moved out temporarily. In such a case, it is best to have a solicitor give advice.
- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.