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If you have married a British Citizen or permanent resident and you had been together for less than 4 years before you applied for a marriage visa then you may have been granted a visa for a probationary period of 2 years. Provided you are still married and living together in the UK at the end of those 2 years you can apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK which will make you a permanent resident.

If you are not married you might have an unmarried person’s visa. Although this is more difficult to obtain, if you can prove that you have been together for less than 4 years and you have been living together for at least 2 years then you might be granted a visa which also allows you to remain living in the UK for a probationary period of 2 years. At the end of 2 years then provided you have remained living together in the UK you can apply for indefinite leave to remain in this country.

For both married and unmarried couples, then if they have been together for more than 4 years outside of the UK the foreign partner can apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK without having to go through the 2 year probationary period in the first instance.

Please do have a look at our immigration pages for more information on the eligibility criteria for obtaining marriage and unmarried visas and for applying for indefinite leave to remain.

At Sultan Lloyd Solicitors we have a nationally renowned Immigration Team who work closely with our Family Team to deal with issues that can present themselves where one spouse or partner has moved to the UK to be with the other.

We recognise that sometimes a marriage does break down before the 2 year period has expired. We also recognise that there are cases whereby upon the arrival of the foreign spouse to this country, it soon becomes apparent that their only motivation for getting married was to come to the UK.

What can I do if I think my partner has married me purely to come to the UK?

We have seen many clients, both men and women who tell us a story of a blossoming romance and a lavish wedding which subsequently turns out to be a farce on the part of their foreign spouse. Not only is this extremely hurtful for the person who thought they had married for love, it is also extremely concerning for the Home Office who do their best to verify that marriages are genuine on the part of both parties before granting a marriage visa.

If you have been married to your foreign spouse for less than 2 years and you are sure that your marriage is over (or was not for the right reasons) then you will need to think about starting divorce proceedings. You could commence divorce proceedings using one of the following grounds:

  1. Adultery on the part of your spouse.
  2. Unreasonable behaviour on the part of your spouse. This could include things such as lack of love and affection, lack of interest in a physical relationship, shouting during arguments, constantly criticising you, failure to engage with your family, engaging in inappropriate relationships with third parties, fits of silence and moodiness and verbal and physical abuse.

If you were not married then you do not need to start any Court proceedings to formalise the end of the relationship.

Whether you are married or not, if any one of the following applies then you should contact the Home Office as soon as the relationship comes to end (if you are married you do not have to wait until you are divorced):

  1. Your spouse or partner’s right to remain in the UK is dependent upon your British Citizenship or your own UK visa which allows you to live here;
  2. Your spouse is here under a “family of a settled person” visa;
  3. Your spouse or partner has limited leave to remain in the UK because they are the partner of you as a British Citizen, a “settled person” or someone who has refugee status or humanitarian protection.

Similarly, if your relationship ends and you are sponsoring your partner or spouse for their visa you must tell the Home Office if you are:

  • A British Citizen;
  • A “settled person” with indefinite leave to remain;
  • Someone with refugee status;
  • Someone with humanitarian protection or;
  • You are in the UK on a temporary visa such as a work visa

You should write to the Home Office explaining that your relationship has ended. The address is Manchester Curtailment Team, PO BOX 99, Manchester M90 3WW. In your letter you should provide your name, date of birth, address, passport number and Home Office reference number. Your ex-partner or estranged spouse should also write to the Home Office but they might be reluctant to do so given the possible consequences. You should therefore include in your letter the same information for your ex partner so far as it is known to you.

If your ex partner was only allowed to remain in the UK because of their relationship with you or their marriage to you then they will need to leave unless they can successfully apply for a visa in their own right.

If your ex-partner already had indefinite leave to remain at the time of the relationship or marriage breaking down then they will not be asked to leave the UK as a result of the relationship or marriage coming to an end. Indefinite leave to remain will only be revoked if your ex-partner is convicted of a serious criminal offence, in the interests of national security or if they remain living outside of the UK for more than 2 years.

Will I be deported if my relationship or marriage has ended?

The answer to this question depends on the type of visa that you have. If your marriage or relationship has come to an end then you must notify the Home Office if any of these apply to you:

  • You are a dependent on your partner’s UK visa;
  • You have a “family of a settled person” visa as a spouse or partner or;
  • You have limited leave to remain in the UK because you are the partner of a British Citizen, a “settled person” or someone who has refugee status or humanitarian protection.

If one of these applies then both you and your ex partner should write to the Home Office at Manchester Curtailment Team, PO Box 99, Manchester M90 3WW. You should say in the letter that you have separated and you should give your name, date of birth, address, passport number and Home Office reference number.

If you were only allowed to remain in the UK because of your relationship then once that has ended you will need to apply for a visa in your own right to stay here. You might be able to apply for one of the following:

  1. A work visa.
  2. Leave to remain as a settled person.
  3. Leave to remain on the basis that you are the parent of one or more British or settled children or you are the parent of children who have lived in the UK continuously for at least 7 years.
  4. Leave to remain based upon your private life.

If you already have indefinite leave to remain in the UK then you will not be deported purely because your relationship has broken down.

What happens to my immigration status if my marriage is annulled?

If you have been granted a marriage visa and your spouse then tries to annul your marriage before the 2 year probationary period has elapsed and before you have been granted indefinite leave to remain then you should take legal advice as soon as possible. An annulment can mean that there was never a valid marriage in the first place and in turn that means that your marriage visa should not have been granted.

Applications for a marriage to be annulled are relatively rare but where they do occur it is imperative that advice is taken from someone with experience in that field, particularly where there are also immigration issues. The timescale that the Court allows you to defend the nullity case is very short and you should appreciate that there will need to be a Court hearing that you will be expected to attend.

Contact our Immigration and Divorce Solicitors Birmingham

We have experience of dealing with nullity applications and defences and if you would like to discuss this process please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team. Call us on 0121 248 2850 or contact us by using our online enquiry form.


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'My friends, the Patel family, were referred to Harminder Meht of Sultan Lloyd in September 2013.  We met Harminder when circumstances were very challenging and Harminder explained the available options very clearly, helpfully and with evident empathy and understanding.  Thereafter she and her colleagues helped us at every step including securing legal aid despite the fact that a previous solicitor had not identified that this was possible. Harminder was instrumental in securing the release from detention of one member of the family and following a difficult judicial review process she obtained a Home Office decision that allows the family leave to remain in the UK, to work and study here for the next 30 months. We are all delighted with Harminder and Sultan Lloyd and we are very happy to recommend Harminder and Sultan Lloyd to future users of their services.'

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-- Mark Symes, Counsel at Garden Court Chambers, London

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