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Victims with no recourse to public funds

Victims with no recourse to public funds

Sometimes abusers use a person’s immigration status to try and control them.

Regardless of your immigration status, if you are subject to domestic abuse, you have the right to protection by the Police and courts from your abuser or abusers and the right to access domestic abuse services. 

What does 'no recourse' mean?

If you are an immigrant to the UK and your partner is abusive, you may be unsure of what your rights are or what services are available to you. Your partner might tell you that you have no rights, and that no-one will help you.

Some women have ‘no recourse to public funds’, which means they are not entitled to welfare benefits.  If you are unsure about your immigration status, you can find this out by looking at your passport.  The options available to you will depend on your immigration status.

What can you do?

If you have no recourse to public funds, it is possible to apply for a Destitute Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC) so that you can claim benefits, which means you can go to a refuge to flee abuse or apply for alternative housing because of domestic abuse. It is a good idea to seek legal advice as soon as you can on how to apply for a DDVC.  It is also advisable to report domestic abuse to the Police, as in some cases reporting the abuse can support applications relating to your immigration status, in addition to giving you immediate protection from harm. 

If you have come to the UK on a spouse or partner visa and you are experiencing domestic violence, then you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) straight away under the domestic violence rule.  

Whatever your immigration status, IDAS can help.  As well as explaining how you can apply for a DDVC or ILR, we also provide a free and confidential helpline where you can get advice and guidance on other issues, including practical measures on how to keep you and any children you may have safe. Our highly trained and experienced practitioners can also signpost you to other support agencies and we work closely with agencies specialising in illegal cultural harms, such as forced marriage, so called “honour-based” abuse, and female genital mutilation.  You can also access our community services whether you wish to report the abuse or not to the Police and these are free of charge. 

If English is not your first language, we can arrange for an interpreter who speaks your preferred language. 

Other organisations who can help

The Halo project support victims of so-called “honour” based abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. 


Ashiana specialises in helping Black and Minority Ethnic women, in particular women from South Asian, Turkish & Iranian communities, aged 16-30 years who are at risk of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.

They run three refuges; two specifically for women aged 16-35 fleeing forced marriage. They also offer an advice and support service to women and girls who are experiencing domestic violence or sexual violence, enabling them to make informed decisions and exit violent relationships.

Additionally, they provide counselling as well as delivering education programmes for young people and a range of awareness raising workshops for professionals and women in the community.

Tel: 020 8539 0427

The Muslim Women’s Network is the only national Muslim women’s organisation in Britain and works to improve social justice and equality for Muslim women and girls.

They operate a national specialist faith and culturally sensitive helpline that is confidential and non-judgmental, which offers information, support, guidance and referrals for those who are suffering from or at risk of abuse or facing problems on a range of issues. 

Tel: 0800 999 5786 


The Refugee Council delivers a number of projects to refugees, some with a specific focus around domestic violence and sexual violence in refugee communities.

Tel: 020 7346 6700  


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