The Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession (MVDAC), formerly known as the Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC), enables certain people who have leave to enter or remain as a partner to gain access to public funds following a relationship breakdown with their partner due to domestic abuse. As most people with leave as a partner have no recourse to public funds, the concession provides an essential means of accessing benefits and local authority housing assistance when a victim of domestic abuse would otherwise be left without accommodation or funds to meet their basic living needs following separation from their their partner.
It is essential that anyone who separates from a partner due to domestic abuse is signposted to immigration advice to find out what their options are, including whether the MVDAC is the right route for them. Some groups that can apply for the concession will not be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) on the basis that they are a victim of domestic abuse.
Home Office guidance sets out the MVDAC policy in detail.
A person can apply for the concession if they have, or were last granted, leave on one of the following grounds:
The person must also meet the following requirements:
The MVDAC is not available to victims of domestic abuse who have other types of leave to remain, such as partners of visitors, people with pre-settled status, or people with student or worker leave in their own right. Victims of domestic abuse who are without lawful status are also unable to apply for the concession.
3 months limited leave to remain outside of the Immigration Rules will be granted with access to employment, benefits and local authority housing assistance. The Department for Work and Pensions provides guidance about help available to victims of domestic abuse who need to apply for, or are claiming, benefits.
The Home Office will confirm in writing whether the person is eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain under Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse.
During the 3-month period, the person must do one of the following:
When an application for ILR or a different type of leave is made within the 3-month period, the person's leave will be extended by section 3C if their MVDAC leave expires before the Home Office makes a decision their application. They will continue to be able to work and access benefits whilst they are waiting for a decision from the Home Office.
A person will become an overstayer if they do not submit another immigration application before their 3 months leave expires and they do not leave the UK within this time. They will have no recourse to public funds, be unable to work and may be at risk of Home Office enforcement action.
A victim of domestic abuse who has leave to enter or remain on a work and economic route, or as a student or graduate will not be eligible to apply for ILR on the basis of being a victim of domestic abuse.
If they successfully apply to the MVDAC, they will have their leave as the partner of a student or worker replaced by 3 months leave outside the rules and will need to make an application for further leave to remain during the 3-month period if they wish to stay in the UK. However, they will have very limited options available to them in order to apply for further leave.
The MVDAC application form states:
'Permission under this concession is granted outside the Immigration Rules. Applications under Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse (Appendix VDA) and human rights applications can be made by someone granted permission under this concession. However, it may not be possible to qualify for other immigration routes with permission under this concession.
'Applicants who are a partner of a person with permission to enter or stay on a work and economic route or as a student or graduate will not be eligible to apply under Appendix VDA and must understand that a grant of 3 months permission outside the rules under this concession may not lead to eligibility under any other immigration route.'
It it essential that a person accesses legal advice from an immigration adviser before making an application for the MVDAC, particularly if they have leave as the partner of a student, worker or graduate. The Home Office guidance advises that the person should seek legal advice about whether to include any dependent children on their MVDAC application.
The person must submit form: migrant victims of domestic abuse concession to the Home Office by email. The Home Office aims to process applications within 5 working days of receipt.
Legal aid is available to a person on a low income who is applying for ILR on the basis of being a victim of domestic abuse. Free legal advice for survivors of domestic abuse who need advice about their options or who cannot apply for ILR may only be available from a local law centre or voluntary and community sector organisation that has OISC registered immigration advisers. Find an immigration adviser.
Rights of Women operate a free telephone advice service for women who need advice about their immigration status.