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CIH Scotland

New Arrivals

People fleeing domestic abuse

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 abuse?

If you have arrived in the UK to join a partner who is settled here, but have to leave your home because you fear or have experienced abuse 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 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 leave to remain for a fixed period because of the relationship, and you can no longer stay in the relationship because of abuse, 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 enable 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:

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.

You may be able to get help from the local authority social work 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 spouse or civil partner of an EEA national who entered the UK before 1 January 2021 and you have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme you can use your EEA family member rights until your marriage/civil partnership is dissolved. If you are a former partner (whether you were a spouse/civil partner or not) and your relationship ended because of domestic violence you may have former EEA family member rights.

If you are a non-EEA national who has EU pre-settled status on the grounds that you are the parent with sole care of a British child, you have the right to live and work in the UK but you do not qualify for council housing or benefits, although you may get help from social services. If you are destitute, you can apply to the Home Office to vary your leave conditions to allow you to apply for benefits but you should seek advice from a registered immigration adviser before you do this. Once you have EU settled status (usually after five years residence) you can claim help with housing or benefits without any restrictions.

If you are a European national from an ECSMA or ESC member state and you have any kind of leave (including leave with a ‘no public funds’ condition) you can get a council tax rebate but you cannot get help with your rent unless:

  • you claimed housing benefit before 3 May 2022, or
  • you claimed universal credit before 1 January 2021.

More Information

Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland