Advocacy Appeal: New Immigration Rules Contradict Government Domestic Violence Strategy

The Immigration and Law Practitioners Association (ILPA) have issued a press release regarding the new UKBA immigration rules that will come into effect from 6 April, 2011: "HAPPY MOTHERS DAY? DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: UK BORDER AGENCY’S NEW IMMIGRATION RULES WHOLLY AT ODDS WITH HOME OFFICE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN STRATEGY The UK Border Agency yesterday laid new immigration rules before parliament, to come in to force on 6 April, that will make it more likely that victims of domestic violence remain trapped in abusive relationships. The rules contradict the wider Home Office Violence Against Women Strategy. New rules, laid before parliament on 31 March 2011, impose a requirement to be free of criminal convictions at the time of applying for settlement on those applying under the domestic violence rule. The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association has written to the Home Secretary and Equalities Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, urging her to amend the rules as a matter of urgency and withdraw the requirement before it comes into force. The domestic violence rule exists to ensure that people who have come to the UK to join their spouses here and who are allowed to remain for two years initially before qualifying for permanent settlement do not remain trapped in abusive relationships because of fears about their immigration status. Where a person can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the UK Border Agency that their marriage or civil partnership has broken down because of domestic violence, so that they are no longer in a position to apply to remain in the UK on the basis of their relationship, they can be given permission to remain in the UK." See the full Press Release attached below. Relevant convictions could include some types of traffic violations or offences that may have allegedly arisen during domestic disputes. In this editor's opinion, everyone should be protected against domestic violence, not only those without any past convictions. Further rules in the new laws also state that widowed spouses of immigrant status must also be free of spent convictions in order to remain. For more information, please see this topic in our Advocacy board (login required). Please help prevent these laws from coming into effect on the 6th of April, urgently contact your local MP today, write a letter and ask them to take action to stop before it's too late.

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