Legal aid, domestic violence and immigration

The UK Government is currently debating the Legal Aid Bill, which seeks, amongst other things, to remove legal aid from immigration and some asylum-support cases. This Bill is bad news for a number of different people, but immigration and women’s rights groups have particular concerns about the way this will affect women. An example is the proposal to remove legal aid from women whose visa is linked to that of their partner (who has indefinite leave to remain), but who is being subjected to domestic violence by that partner, and so wishes to end the relationship. A woman in such a situation can apply for indefinite leave to remain under the domestic violence rule. But immigration law is complex and women in abusive relationships are often traumatised. Legal advice is essential in such cases, otherwise there is a real risk that women will be trapped in abusive relationships for fear of jeopardising their immigration status. A small victory has been won by rights groups, as the Government has realised this, and decided to allow legal aid in such cases. You can read more here.