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Retained Right of Residence in the UK after Divorce from an EEA National

Sometimes marriages just don’t work out, but what happens if you’ve moved to the UK to be with your partner?

If you gained entry on the basis that your spouse is an EEA national but your marriage has broken down you might be wondering how you can stay in the UK.

You can stay in the UK if you if you have what is called ‘retained right of residence’.

In order to obtain retained right of residence there are certain requirements you must meet.

Retained Right of Residence

How Can I Stay in the UK After my Divorce?

You could be able to apply to stay in the UK by exercising your retained right of residence if your marriage has legally ended with a divorce, annulment or dissolution.

You will only be able to apply if:

  • On the date your marriage ended officially, your ex was a ‘qualified person’ i.e. working, self-employed, self-sufficient, a student or had permanent residence in the UK, and
  • You or a direct family member are working, self-employed or self-sufficient in the UK,

and one of the following also applies:

  • Your marriage or civil partnership lasted at least three years before legal proceedings began to end it, and you both lived in the UK for at least a year before the divorce, annulment or dissolution was finalised
  • You have custody of a child – who has permanent residence – that you and your partner have together
  • Access rights to your child or children belong to you – as long as they are under eighteen and a judge has ordered that access must take place in the UK
  • You have been a victim of domestic violence during the relationship

Time Limits

To legally remain in the UK following a split from your partner you must apply for your own individual right to remain in the country.

This is because you no longer can remain as an EEA national’s family member, since you and your ex are no longer together.

There is no official time limit in which you must apply for retained right of residence, but you should do it as soon as possible.

If you don’t, you are technically not legally in the UK, and so face the risk of deportation.

As soon as the divorce, annulment or dissolution of your relationship is final you should notify the Home Office.

An immigration solicitor will advise you on whether you are eligible to apply for a retained right of residence.

Proof You Need for Retained Right of Residence

The Home Office requires certain proof in order for them to grant you a retained right of residence.

You need to show that your EEA national partner was a qualified person or had permanent residence up until the date your divorce, annulment or dissolution was finalised.

There are a number of documents that you’ll need to provide with your application.

These depend on your individual circumstances.

Our immigration team can provide you with a specific document list tailored to you.

Domestic Violence

If you are a victim of domestic violence then you may be eligible to apply for retained right of residence on these grounds.

You must be able to prove that your relationship:

  • Existed when you first entered the UK, and
  • Broke down during the period you’ve been here because of domestic violence

The Home Office must consider any evidence of domestic violence you submit.

They will decide whether it is probable that your relationship broke down because of domestic violence.

When the Home Office look at your evidence, they will take into account:

  • The timing of your application
  • The length of your relationship before the application is made
  • Your previous immigration history
  • The length of time since the incident/s of domestic violence
  • Any reasons given for a delay in submitting your application

They cannot deny your application simply because you are still living with your partner.


If it would be unsafe for you to return to your home country you may be able to claim asylum.

This is would be the case if you fear returning due to the possibility of facing persecution because of your:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Political opinion, or
  • Social group

If you would be in danger in your home country because of its welfare or security situation, you may be able to apply for protection in the UK.

Immigration Solicitors in Manchester

Going through a divorce, annulment or dissolution of a civil partnership is never easy.

That’s why we’re here to help.

Here at AWH, our friendly, knowledgeable immigration solicitors are committed to helping you every step of the way.

If you need guidance through any immigration process, get in touch using our contact form or call 0844 414 0667.

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