I may soon have nowhere to live

Jamaica Gleaner - - IMMIGRATION CORNER - John Bassie John S. Bassie is a bar­ris­ter/at­tor­ney-at-law who prac­tises law in Ja­maica. He is a jus­tice of the peace, a Supreme Court-ap­pointed me­di­a­tor, a fel­low of the Char­tered In­sti­tute of Ar­bi­tra­tors, a char­tered ar­bi­tra­tor, and a mem­ber of the Immi

Mr Bassie, I read your col­umn a few weeks ago where you gave ad­vice to some­one whose visa was based on a mar­riage, and that per­son was head­ing for a di­vorce. Could you please tell me what type of visa I may be el­i­gi­ble for? I fear that I may soon have nowhere to live.

– LL

Dear LL,

With re­spect to visas that are based on a re­la­tion­ship, when per­sons sep­a­rate or di­vorce, and hav­ing ad­vised the Home Of­fice then those per­sons must ei­ther be pre­pared to leave the United King­dom, or ap­ply for a dif­fer­ent visa to stay in the United King­dom (UK).

When ap­ply­ing for a dif­fer­ent visa, per­sons should check their el­i­gi­bil­ity for visas. For ex­am­ple, per­sons may be able to ap­ply for a work visa; to set­tle in the UK; as a par­ent of a child who is Bri­tish, set­tled in the UK or has lived in the UK for at least seven years; based on their pri­vate life in the United King­dom, e.g. hav­ing lived in the UK for a long time.

If the re­la­tion­ship ended be­cause of do­mes­tic violence, per­sons should check if they can set­tle in the UK if they have ex­pe­ri­enced do­mes­tic violence as the part­ner of a: Bri­tish cit­i­zen or per­son set­tled in the UK; mem­ber of HM Forces who has served for at least four years. It should be noted that a per­son can re­port do­mes­tic abuse or get help.

It is ad­vis­able that a per­son ap­ply as soon as pos­si­ble af­ter the re­la­tion­ship breaks down.

In ad­di­tion, a per­son can reg­is­ter their ‘home rights’ with Land Registry. This can help stop the part­ner from selling the home.

There are dif­fer­ent rules if the prop­erty is owned jointly with a spouse or civil part­ner or if per­sons are not mar­ried and are not in a civil part­ner­ship. A per­son can­not ap­ply for home rights if the spouse or civil part­ner owns the prop­erty with some­one else un­less the spouse or civil part­ner would get all the money if the prop­erty was sold. This is known as be­ing the ‘sole ben­e­fi­cial owner’.

Please note that be­fore per­sons ap­ply for home rights, they will need to know if the prop­erty is regis­tered in their part­ner’s name and its ti­tle num­ber. This can be as­cer­tained by search­ing the reg­is­ter to find this in­for­ma­tion.

When mak­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion, per­sons must com­plete a dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tion process for home rights de­pend­ing on whether the prop­erty is regis­tered or if the prop­erty is un­reg­is­tered.

With re­spect to how long a per­son can stay in the prop­erty, a per­son can usu­ally only live in the prop­erty un­til the di­vorce, an­nul­ment or dis­so­lu­tion has been fi­nalised and a court set­tle­ment agreed.

How­ever, a per­son may be able to con­tinue liv­ing in the prop­erty for longer, for ex­am­ple, dur­ing an on­go­ing dis­pute about own­er­ship, or if a court has made a ‘con­tin­u­a­tion or­der’ al­low­ing per­sons to do this.

In ad­di­tion, there may be other things that can be done. For in­stance, per­sons may be able to take le­gal ac­tion against their part­ner if they try to make that per­son move out; stop a move back into a home if not cur­rently liv­ing in it, e.g., if that per­son moved out tem­po­rar­ily. In such a case, it is best to have a solic­i­tor give ad­vice.

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