It’s estimated that more than 8 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide because of persecution or conflict, often facing violence and abuse within their own families.
Domestic abuse victims face further difficulties if they attempt to flee their abusers. Some countries won’t allow you to leave your husband, wife, or partner even if your life is in danger. There may be no safe refuge for you to take your children with you either. Depending on where you are in the world, being a victim of domestic abuse can be punishable by death under honor killing laws – this is considered murder in the name of restoring the family’s honor.
If you are fleeing domestic violence or honor-based violence, please find out now if you will be able to claim asylum in your new country.
Will I be able to claim asylum if I am being abused by my partner or spouse?
Domestic violence victims can claim asylum, but the decision-makers must believe that you are really at risk of harm if you return home – it’s not enough for someone just to shout at you or have an affair with another woman. You should provide evidence such as medical reports, police records, and witness statements before making a successful application. If you’ve already left your country of origin and made a new life in another place, please remember that most countries require people to make asylum claims on their home soil. You may also need to prove nationality and show that is no safe refuge in your home country.
Can I claim asylum if I’m being forced to marry someone?
If you’re a minor and your parents are forcing you to get married, this is considered child abuse and you should be able to claim asylum. If there’s no one in your country of origin that can protect or care for you then the authorities may give you leave to remain. Whether the forced marriage law applies will depend on where in the world your case is heard. Child marriages are illegal in some countries but not all – please check with an immigration solicitor before making a decision about claiming asylum. You must show that it is impossible for you to legitimately continue living in your home country because of forced marriage and/or spouse’s family violence.
How will my claim be assessed?
The UK Border Agency doesn’t consider domestic violence or forced marriage to be persecution – it just means that you cannot forcibly return someone back to their home country. If the marriage has taken place and children have been born, officials might allow you to stay in the United Kingdom provided they are ‘habitually resident there. You must wait until you have successfully claimed asylum before applying for indefinite leave to remain (permission to stay forever). If you’ve not yet married your spouse, he or she may need to provide evidence that the partner is who they say they are by undertaking an investigation with UKBA. Your child can also apply for indefinite leave to remain if their parent (you) is granted refugee status or humanitarian protection.
Please note that you cannot claim asylum in the United Kingdom if your main reason for leaving was to avoid a prison sentence unless you can show that it’s impossible for you to re-enter your home country. You may still be able to make a human rights application but this has a low success rate and is usually not well-publicized – please contact an immigration solicitor now for more information about making a fresh claim.
What will happen next?
Before UKBA makes any decision about whether or not they believe your claim as an asylum seeker, they must first consider whether or not you have been tortured under their torture policy. They won’t know anything about how severe your injuries are, whether you’re receiving any medical treatment, or if your partner and his family are still threatening to kill you – these should be included in your application as evidence. UKBA might also need to see a psychiatrist report if they think you’ve not been truthful about the abuse.
It can be very difficult to convince them that you are at risk of harm if you return home – the UKBA officials expect your partner and his family to behave normally when they meet them, so it’s important that you have someone to support you throughout this process.
Forced marriage victims are not covered by the torture policy but UKBA must consider how well you understand the risks involved in returning home, what support is available once you reach your home country, why your circumstances have changed since leaving, whether any children will be left alone in their own country or sent somewhere else, and how much time has passed since you escaped. If UKBA finds that there is nothing stopping you from returning then they might recommend that another asylum seeker or refugee charity deals with your case.
Please note that all decisions made by UKBA are subject to appeal and could be overturned at any time – you should keep this in mind when making a claim for asylum and apply as soon as possible. If the Home Office rejects your claim, you might be forced to return to your home country and leave behind anyone who’s living with you here in the United Kingdom. Your children will also have to make their own applications if they wish to remain here once they’re 18 years old. It can take several months before a final decision is made about either of these claims so please do not give up hope just yet!
Please contact us now if anything comes up that you find difficult or upsetting during the asylum application process. We have a lot of experience in dealing with these issues and will be happy to offer our advice.
For more information, you may ask or consult with immigration lawyers in Houston.