Tue | Apr 13, 2021

Will a divorce end my stay?

Published:Tuesday | December 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie, I am from Jamaica and I got married last year to a British man. I am now living in the United Kingdom (UK). Our relationship has gotten from bad to worse and I believe that we are heading for a divorce. If the relationship comes to an end, will I be forced to leave the UK? I am worried as I have a job and I do not want to leave.Regards,E.H.

Dear E.H.,

I am sorry to hear your marriage has taken a turn for the worse.

I will assume you were granted permission to enter and remain in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or someone who is 'settled' in the UK, which, in this case, that would be your husband. If that is the case, then you would quite likely have been given temporary permission to stay in the UK as the partner of a British citizen. The term 'partner' refers to husband, wife and civil partner.

In your particular set of circumstances, if your relationship ends while you have temporary permission to stay in the UK, that is, during your two-year probationary period, you are obligated to tell the authorities about the change in your circumstances.

In addition, you should also tell the authorities if it is your intention to leave the UK because of these changes, or to remain there. The authorities should be informed prior to your making an application to live in the UK permanently, since you no longer meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules under which you were originally given permission to stay in the UK. At this juncture, the authorities will consider whether the permission granted should remain or whether that permission should be cancelled.

On the other hand, your husband is also obligated to inform the authorities that the relationship has ended during the two-year probationary period, that is while you have only limited permission to stay in the UK before you can apply to live there permanently. He could inform the authorities by writing to them at the Evidence and Enquiry Unit of the UK Border Agency in Croydon, Surrey.

In such circumstances, your husband would be required to quote your full name as it is recorded in your passport; date of birth; and if he knows it, your entry clearance or United Kingdom Border Agency reference number.

may curtail your permission

Having received this information, in such a situation, the authorities may curtail (cancel) your permission to stay in the UK. However, this will not automatically happen if the basis of your stay has changed. For example, you may qualify for permission to stay on a different basis, or there may be other compassionate or relevant reasons why it would not be appropriate to curtail your stay.

If your husband writes to tell the authorities that his relationship has broken down, they will consider whether it is appropriate to curtail your permission to stay. In any case, before taking any action, they will ask for his permission to use the information that he has given them.

If the authorities do decide to curtail your permission to stay, then you will have a right of appeal, which means that you could remain in the UK for some time before the authorities could consider removing you.

As you can see, the procedural guidelines are quite specific with respect to the dissolution of a relationship under the type of circumstances that you have outlined. I hope this helps and good luck.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises in Jamaica. He is a Supreme Court-appointed mediator and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com or editor@gleanerjm.com.