Fee Waivers for UK Immigration Applications: Part 1
This is a two-part post that explains fee waivers the Home Office can grant for certain in-country immigration applications, where you apply from within the UK.
Part 1 covers what fee waivers mean in the context of UK immigration applications, which immigration applications are eligible for fee waivers and how to apply for a fee waiver.
Part 2 will cover the requirements of a fee waiver application, the supporting evidence you need to submit with your application and what happens if your fee waiver request is granted or refused.
What Is a Fee Waiver for an Immigration Application in the UK?
A ‘fee waiver’ is when you are not required to pay the full amount of a fee or the amount you have to pay is reduced. You can request a fee waiver for certain immigration applications. If your fee waiver application is successful, the Home Office will grant you a ‘fee waiver’, which means you will not have to pay for:
- The whole amount of your immigration application, which is the application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge. If you are unable to pay the application fee, the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge will be waived automatically. If you are extending your visa or switching to a new one, you will normally be required to pay £19.20 to provide your biometric information–this cost is included within the cost of the application fee and therefore will also be waived if you apply for a fee waiver for the ‘whole amount’ of your immigration application; or
- The cost of your application’s Immigration Health Surcharge only (if you can afford the application fee but not the Immigration Health Surcharge).
If you can afford your own immigration application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge but you have dependants who also need to make an immigration application with you, you can request a fee waiver for your dependants’ immigration application fees and/or Immigration Health Surcharge. The fee waiver application form will ask you to specify which dependants require a fee waiver and which do not.
Which Immigration Applications Can You Request a Fee Waiver For?
Home Office Guidance, entitled Fee waiver: Human Rights-based and other specified applications, Version 6.0, published on 08 April 2022, confirms you can apply for fee waivers for the following in-country immigration applications, where you would be applying from within the UK:
- Applications for leave to remain under the 5-year partner route, where you are not required to meet the minimum income threshold because your sponsor receives one or more specified benefits and where you instead need to demonstrate that your sponsor can provide adequate maintenance.
- Applications for leave to remain under the 5-year parent route.
- Applications for leave to remain under the new 5-year route being introduced under the Private Life Rules.
- Applications for leave to remain under the 10-year partner, parent or private life route, where you claim a refusal of that application would breach yours (or other specified persons) right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
- Applications for leave to remain on the basis of other ECHR rights.
- Applications for further leave to remain where you have been granted discretionary leave following the refusal of asylum or humanitarian protection and where you claim a refusal to grant further leave to remain would breach your ECHR rights.
- Applications for further discretionary leave from victims of trafficking or slavery who have a ‘positive conclusive grounds’ decision from a competent authority of the national referral mechanism and where you have already accrued 30 months’ discretionary leave, and are seeking an extension to your leave for reasons related to trafficking or slavery.
UPDATE: On 26 May 2022, the Home Office published guidance confirming fee waivers are also available for individuals under 18 years of age for applications to register as a British citizen. You can read the Home Office’s Guidance on this here.
When Should You Apply for and Submit a Fee Waiver Request?
Applying for a fee waiver if you already have leave to remain
If you currently have valid leave to remain and you want a fee waiver for an application to extend your leave to stay with the same family member, according to this information on ‘Requesting a fee waiver’ on the GOV.UK website, you should not apply for a fee waiver until you are within 28 days of your leave expiring.
Submitting your fee waiver request too early may result in there being an overlap between your current grant of leave and your next grant of leave. This is because, as stated in the Home Office’s Guidance, Fee waiver: Human Rights-based and other specified applications, Version 6.0, when the Home Office grants you a fee waiver, you will have 10 working days from the date of the Home Office’s fee waiver decision to submit an application for leave to remain or further leave to remain. Whilst the Home Office Guidance suggests that the 10 working days period starts from the date of the fee waiver decision, paragraph 34G(4) of the Immigration Rules makes clear that the 10 day period starts from the day you receive the fee waiver decision, rather than the date of the decision itself.
The ‘Requesting a fee waiver’ information on the GOV.UK website provides the following scenario as an example:
Your leave expires 1 April 2021, you request a fee waiver on 1 January 2021. The fee waiver is accepted on 1 February 2021, you then have to apply for your leave to remain within 10 working days.
You apply for leave to remain on 11 February 2021 and it is granted; you are granted a maximum of 31 months. You lose approximately 2.5 months from your current leave (which expired on 1 April 2021).
After the 10 day period, your leave to remain will be treated as expired so it is important you submit your application for leave to remain or further leave to remain after you receive the fee waiver decision and before the end of the 10 working days to avoid becoming an ‘overstayer’. You can read more about the consequences of becoming an overstayer here on our website.
Applying for a fee waiver if you currently do not have valid leave
If you do not have valid leave to remain and you apply for a fee waiver for an eligible in-country immigration application, Version 6.0 of the Home Office’s Fee Waiver Guidance says you will not benefit from the 10 working days period. Therefore, you should submit your application for leave to remain or further leave to remain as soon as the Home Office grants you the fee waiver.
How Do I Apply for a Fee Waiver Application?
For applicable in-country immigration applications, you apply for a fee waiver by completing this online form on the GOV.UK website. You also need to submit supporting evidence with your application. The fee waiver application is free to make. More on the application process and supporting evidence to provide with a fee waiver application will be covered in Part 2, which will be published on our website soon.
Contact our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance on your immigration matter, including assistance with making a fee waiver application, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.