HL Deb 17 June 1999 vol 602 cc45-6WA
Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they will announce the outcome of their review of immigration policy in relation to overseas spouses who suffer domestic violence in the first 12-month probationary period. [HL3061]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

We have decided to introduce a concession, which will be outside the Immigration Rules, for overseas spouses who wish to remain in the United Kingdom but who wish to leave their partner because of domestic violence before completion of the 12-month probationary period. In order to benefit under this concession the overseas national will need to provide objective evidence that he or she has been the victim of domestic violence. This is essential if such applications are to be dealt with swiftly and with fairness and consistency.

The concession will come into force with immediate effect. An applicant whose marriage breaks down during the probationary year as a result of domestic violence may be granted indefinite leave to remain exceptionally, outside the Immigration Rules, provided the domestic violence occurred while the marriage was subsisting and the applicant is able to produce one of the following forms of evidence that domestic violence has taken place: an injunction, non-molestation or other protection order (other than an ex parte or interim order); or a relevant court conviction; or full details of a relevant police caution.

Where a prosecution is pending against the sponsor the applicant may be granted further periods of six months' limited leave to remain, subject to the same conditions, until the outcome of the criminal prosecution is known. Where a hearing seeking an injunction, non-molestation order or other protection order is pending, a decision on the application will be delayed pending the outcome of that hearing.

In addition to helping victims of domestic violence, we have decided, in the interests of compassion and fairness, that where an applicant is widowed during the probationary period he or she may also be granted indefinite leave to remain exceptionally outside the Immigration Rules, provided that the Secretary of State is satisfied that the marriage was subsisting at the time of the sponsor's death.

These arrangements will also be applied to those who have been admitted to join a person settled here under the unmarried partners concession which was announced on 10 October 1997.