Skip to main content

CIH logo

New Arrivals

People fleeing domestic violence

This page is for new arrivals. If you are a housing adviser please click here for information more relevant to you.

Are you fleeing domestic violence?

If you have arrived in the UK to join a partner who is settled here, but you have to leave your home because you fear or have experienced violence from your partner, this information applies to you.

  • you may be a woman or a man
  • you may be married to your partner, living with him or her, or in a civil partnership
  • you may be in a lesbian, gay or straight relationship
  • you may or may not have children.

If you are the partner, husband, wife or cohabitee of an EEA national, there are special rules that may allow you to keep your right to reside when you end your relationship because of domestic violence. Until you divorce or dissolve your partnership you will keep the rights that you have as a wife, husband or civil partner. These are explained in the page on EEA family members.

If you arrived in the UK to join a British partner or a partner who is settled (i.e. has indefinite leave to remain); you were given limited leave to remain because of the relationship, and you can no longer stay in the relationship because of violence, there is an Immigration Rule (no 289A, the domestic violence rule) which allows you to apply to get indefinite leave to remain under certain conditions. The full version of this rule and other family rules can be found in the Home Office immigration rules.

If you leave your partner within the period of limited leave you were given as a husband, wife, cohabitee or civil partner, and are considering applying under the domestic violence rule, you can apply for leave for up to three months to allow you to make the application.  This should be granted quite quickly and allows you to access benefits and support while waiting for the domestic violence application to be granted. 

Leaving a violent relationship involves a lot of choices, and these are best made with the help of good advice and support.  Some of the law in this area is complex and developing.  There are organisations dedicated to helping and advising people fleeing domestic violence.  You can find some on the links page, and also by contacting the Domestic Violence Helpline - 0808 2000 247.

What documents might you be asked for?

You should get good legal advice if you are thinking of applying for the three months’ leave or under the domestic violence rule or getting accommodation from a local authority or a charity. Usually, when applying for housing, you would need to produce a passport and/or leave document to prove your immigration status, so a lawyer or adviser can help explain if you do not have them. Officials should be sympathetic to the fact that you may have had to leave in a hurry or your ex-partner may have stolen or hidden your documents.

What are your rights to housing and benefits?

If you get leave for three months, this leave entitles to you to access benefits and also to apply for help if you are homeless and to apply for a housing allocation.  If your application for indefinite leave to remain is granted then you will also be able to get benefits, apply for homeless help and to apply for an allocation of housing.

You can apply to a housing association for housing, but will need to show them how you can pay your rent. You can also apply for accommodation from a private landlord although you will have to be able to show your documentation (in England) as landlords have to carry out 'right to rent' checks to ensure you have the right to rent in the UK.

Everyone has the right to get free advice and information from their local council (or an organisation they have commissioned to provide it) to help them if they are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days.  This advice must, in particular, meet the needs of anyone who is or was released from prison or youth detention accommodation, a care leaver, a former member of the regular armed forces, a victim of domestic abuse, leaving hospital, suffering from a mental illness or impairment, and from any other group that the authority identify as being at particular risk of homelessness in their district.

You may be able to get help from the local authority social services department, who are responsible for the care of children in need and vulnerable adults. See the page on people with social care needs for more information on this.

Even if you do not apply for help under the domestic violence rule, if you are the parent with sole care of a British child, and have no other leave to remain in the UK you may be able to get leave to remain as the carer of your child, or a right to reside under European rules that protect the rights of EEA citizen children. If you get leave to remain, the Home Office may consider allowing you also to have ‘recourse to public funds’ that will allow you to apply for benefits. 

This is a complicated area of law that is still developing, however, and you need to get advice before applying for leave to remain or the right to reside or for benefits or housing. 

If you are from North Macedonia or Turkey you can get universal credit or housing benefit to help pay your rent as long as you are habitually resident in the UK and have current leave to remain or are the family member of an EEA national. This is because the UK has signed agreements to allow its own citizens to claim benefits in those countries in return for the same rights for those nationals living in the UK.

If you are from Poland, you can call the Polish domestic violence helpline on 0800 061 4004 (open Wednesday and Friday mornings).


Chartered Institute of Housing

More Information

Chartered Institute of Housing