Better support for victims of Domestic Violence
The Home Secretary announces new safeguards to protect overseas spouses who become victims of domestic violence after entering the UK.
Overseas spouses and partners of UK residents who are forced to flee their relationships as a result of domestic violence will be able to access vital support services, the Home Secretary has announced.
At present, some pertners feel they have to stay in abusive relationships because they are in the UK on a spousal visa and have ‘no recourse to public funds’, meaning that they cannot access support services during the 2-year probationary period before they can apply for settlement.
Following a successful pilot project, these victims will be able to access services to ensure that they do not need to remain in violent relationships. Access to these services will be for a strictly limited period while the victim gathers evidence and makes a claim for residence based on the domestic violence, and while the UK Border Agency considers the application.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
‘We are clear that no one should be forced to stay in an abusive relationship. Earlier this week I set out detailed plans for tackling all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, in this country and overseas.
‘We have always said we will support the small number of spouses who must leave their relationship and are unable to access any support services. However, we are very clear there will be tough checks in place to ensure this system is not abused by those seeking to stay in the country where they do not have the right to.‘
Victims of domestic violence in the UK on a spousal visa can currently access some support services via a pilot programme known as the Sojourner Project, which has operated since November 2009. Between December 2009 and January 2011, 587 women and 358 children have been supported through the pilot. The permanent plan will come into effect next year.