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

Retained Right of Residence
Legally reviewed by: Nisha Leel In: Immigration

What you Should know about Retained Right of Residence after a Divorce

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 a spouse visa or unmarried partner visa of an EEA national but your marriage or relationship has broken down you might be wondering how you can stay in the UK.

Retained right of residence after divorce

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.

Did you initially move to the UK to join your partner but are now going through a divorce? Our team of immigration and family law solicitors can help you. 

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

Our expert family and immigration solicitors can help you with all aspects of your divorce. What to learn more about the retained right of residence after divorce? 

Time Limits for Retained Right of Residence

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 the 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.

What Proof do 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 and Retention of Rights after Divorce in the UK

Can I get Retained Right of Residence if I am the Victim of Domestic Violence?

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

To retain right of residence after divorce 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.

Our solicitors know the complications domestic violence within your relationship will undoubtedly bring. We are here to help.


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 and Family Law Solicitors in Birmingham

Going through a divorce, annulment or dissolution of a civil partnership is never easy. It can be especially difficult if you staying in the UK relies on your relationship.

That’s why we’re here to help you get retained right of residence, so you can continue to enjoy living your life in the UK even after your divorce.

Here at Cartwright King, our dual-expertise immigration and family law solicitors are committed to helping you every step of the way.

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.