Relationship breakdown and separation: Impact on a UK visa

Most of the visa pathways under the UK Immigration Rules allow dependent partners, which include spouses as well as unmarried partners to join their British Citizens, settled persons or leading applicants under the various visa routes in order for them to continue enjoying family and private life in the UK. It is, however, unavoidable, that every relationship goes through a fair share of ups and downs and in some cases, results in separation and divorce.

As far as the Home Office is concerned, every separation or divorce from a UK-based partner must be reported. This is because the visa of dependent partners depends on the relationship in question, making their stay in the UK limited to the leading applicant’s visa or visa validity on family routes.

Different rules apply to family members of the BN(O) Status Holders, where the subsequent applications for leave to remain or settlement do not require proof of a subsisting relationship. Similarly, in EUSS cases, each individual with a visa granted under the EUSS Scheme has leave in their own right. As such, the test of proportionality must be applied by the Home Office before considering visa cancellation.

The reporting can be made by either the visa status holder or the sponsoring partner. There is an electronic application form that can be found on the GOV.UK website is specially designed for this purpose.

The ultimate question is what happens to a valid UK visa after the necessary reporting has been made to the Home Office?

According to the Home Office’s internal procedure, once the notification of the relationship breakdown has been received, the case will be considered for cancellation and the visa will be curtailed to 60 days unless there are exceptional reasons to cancel permission with immediate effect or the individual has less than 60 days permission remaining. During the curtailment period, an alternative visa status can be sought via other permittable UK visa routes.

If there is a reliable indication that the UK visa holder has been a victim of abuse or domestic abuse at the hands of their UK spouse or partner, the curtailment will not be persuaded. This, however, excludes cases where the lead applicant holds a temporary UK visa (for example under the Point-Based System).

It is a common practice that the decision to cancel a UK visa is served via email but can also be sent by post to the last known address where the email address is not provided. It is advisable to regularly check a spam folder in the email account as the Home Office communication can land there.

In the most recent judgment on this matter [2024] EWHC 1097 (Admin), the claimant challenged the Home Office visa refusal on two grounds, one of them being the statutory presumption of service. The judge accepted that the curtailment decision served via email was capable of being rebutted, however, without any substantial evidence it was impossible to ascertain. The onus is on a UK visa holder to regularise their immigration status as soon as possible following the relationship breakdown, even, if they have been unaware of the reporting being made to the Home Office by the other party to the relationship.

This article is provided for general information only. It is not intended to be and cannot be relied upon as legal advice or otherwise. If you would like to discuss any of the matters covered in this article, please contact us using the contact form or email us on