European & International News

UK: Rule change gives abused foreign spouses access to help

[Brussels, 16 march 2011] Changes to visa rules in the UK will give foreign partners of UK citizens and residents who flee relationships after violence access to support services from 2012.

At present, women victims of male violence may stay in abusive situations because their spousal visas give them no recourse to public funds during an initial two-year probationary period.

Under the new rules, they will be entitled to help while a claim for residence based on the domestic violence is considered.

In an interview with the BBC, Home Secretary Theresa May said: "We are clear that no-one should be forced to stay in an abusive relationship. 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."

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