Fee Waivers for UK Immigration Applications: Part 2
This is the second part of a guide on fee waivers for certain in-country immigration applications, where you apply from within the UK.
Please follow this link for Part 1, which 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.
This post covers the requirements for fee waivers for human rights-based applications and applications for under-18s to register as a British citizen. It also covers the evidence you need to submit with your fee waiver application and what happens if your fee waiver request is granted or refused.
What Are the Requirements and What Evidence Do You Need to Provide for the Fee Waiver Application?
The main requirement for a fee waiver is to credibly demonstrate you cannot afford to pay the immigration application fee.
The Home Office should grant someone a fee waiver if someone has “credibly demonstrated” that they cannot afford to pay the fee. Affordability is the sole consideration, however, the Home Office’s Guidance, Fee Waiver: Human Rights-based and other specified applications, Version 6.0, published on 08 April 2022, states one of the following should apply in order to grant someone a fee waiver, each of which is explained in detail further below:
- The individual cannot afford the fee
- The individual is destitute
- The individual is at risk of imminent destitution
- The individual’s income is not sufficient to meet their child’s particular and essential additional needs
If you are applying for a fee waiver for an application for an under-18 to register as a British citizen, the Home Office’s Guidance, Affordability fee waiver: Citizenship registration for individuals under the age of 18 , Version 1.0, published on 26 May 2022, states the primary consideration is the “affordability test”.
The individual cannot afford the fee – the “affordability test”
The affordability test assesses the amount of income and savings available once accommodation and essential living needs for an applicant, any dependants and parents (if an under-18 is applying for citizenship) have been met.
Essential living needs include accommodation, utilities, food, clothing, toiletries, non-prescription medication, household cleaning items, travel and communication to maintain relationships and access to social, cultural and religious life. The Home Office’s Guidance, Version 6.0, refers caseworkers to the report on review of cash allowances paid to asylum seekers, available here, in order for them to consider whether your expenditure is reasonable. However, these are just a guide and you should provide reasons if your expenditure on essential living needs is higher than expected.
It is still possible for someone to have their accommodation and essential living needs provided for by others e.g. family, friends, a charity, local authority or through Asylum Support Regulations, and still be eligible for a fee waiver, as long as they have credibly demonstrated they cannot afford the fee.
However, the Home Office Guidance does direct caseworkers to consider whether someone requesting a fee waiver has spent in excess of their essential living needs, made any non-essential purchases e.g. spending money on holidays or gambling, intentionally disposed of any funds, paid a debt off too early or has assets they can sell. The caseworkers will also consider whether an individual has savings.
If a child under-18 is applying for a fee waiver for their citizenship application, in addition to the above, the Home Office’s Guidance, Affordability fee waiver: Citizenship registration for individuals under the age of 18, Version 1, states how caseworkers will consider whether the child, parent(s) or legal guardian of the child made efforts to save for the fee “across a reasonable amount of time” and will also consider whether they have any bonds or investments.
If any of these apply to you, you should provide explanations to the Home Office as to why these apply e.g. why you have made any non-essential expenditure or why you have savings, and why you cannot afford the immigration application fee regardless.
Children “looked-after” by a local authority
If a child under-18 is applying for a fee waiver for a citizenship application and they are “looked-after” by a local authority, meaning they either are provided with accommodation for a continuous period of more than 24 hours, they are subject to a care order or placement order, then the fee for their citizenship will not be payable and they do not need to evidence their financial circumstances. The same applies if a child outside the UK is under a similar arrangement outside the UK.
The individual has demonstrated that they are destitute
The Home Office’s Guidance on fee waivers (Version 6.0) defines destitution as:
- Not having adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it;
- Having adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it but not being able to meet other essential living needs.
The individual is at risk of imminent destitution
The Home Officer’s Guidance on fee waivers defines imminent destitution as:
- Anyone who is likely to become homeless within the next 3 months from the date of the application
- Anyone living in temporary accommodation e.g. on friend’s floor or spare room and this arrangement is going to come to the end within 3 months of the date of the application
- Anyone at risk of losing their accommodation in the next 3 months
- Someone with no work who is unlikely to be able to meet living costs for beyond 3 months
The individual’s income is not sufficient to meet a child’s particular and essential additional needs
In addition to the above, the caseworker also needs to directly consider whether the individual is unable to meet their child or children’s further essential needs due to a low income or whether paying the immigration application fee would deprive the child of having these further needs met.
Examples of such needs would be taking part in school activities or any further needs that are based on a protected characteristic. Under the Equality Act 2010, protected characteristics include: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
The question to consider is not whether a fee waiver would make more money available to a parent to spend on a child, but whether paying for the immigration application would lead to the child experiencing a lower level of well-being than they currently enjoy or being deprived of a specific item or benefit they currently enjoy.
For fee waivers for applications for an under-18 to register as a British citizen, the Home Office’s Affordability fee waiver: Citizenship registration for individuals under the age of 18 Guidance, Version 1.0, stresses how caseworkers need to decide whether paying the child’s citizenship fee would be disproportionate against the “public interest of funding the functions of the immigration system’. If paying the citizenship fee would prevent the child from taking part in an activity e.g. sports lessons, but stopping the activity would not harm their wellbeing, then the caseworker may believe paying the citizenship fee will not have a disproportionate impact on a child’s wellbeing.
Evidence to Submit With Your Fee Waiver Application
The Home Office’s Fee waiver: Human Rights-based and other specified applications Guidance, Version 6.0, states that individuals must “provide sufficient relevant documentation to evidence their fee waiver application, including detailed evidence as to their financial circumstances.”
You will want to provide a cover letter with your fee waiver application, which explains why you are applying for a fee waiver, your personal circumstances, particularly if you or a dependant has a physical or mental disability and a detailed account of your financial circumstances. The evidence you provide should be up to date and show your current financial circumstances. Therefore, you’ll want to provide evidence from at least the last 6 months before you submit your fee waiver application.
You should also provide evidence relating to:
- Your income: from employment or self-employment, from non-employment sources, from your spouse or partner or any other adult you live with, from welfare benefits or tax credits received by you or your spouse or partner or any other adult you live with, and any financial support received from family and friends. If you receive income from employment, you will need to provide full details including how much and how often you are paid. Income derived from any illegal work (work you have done whilst not having permission to work) will still be considered as an asset when it comes to fee waiver application.
- Your assets: cash you hold, money in UK or non-UK based accounts, investments belonging to you, your spouse or partner or anyone you live with, any land or property which is not your current accommodation or any goods held for the purpose of trade or other business.
- Accommodation and the amount of rent or mortgage you pay
- Expenditure on food
- Expenditure on utility bills
- Expenditure relating to cars or other vehicles, mobile phones or computers
- Expenditure on any ‘non-essential’ items or services
- Evidence of your personal circumstances, particularly for yourself or any dependent family members if you or they have a physical or mental disability.
- Evidence to show how paying the immigration fee would harm your child’s wellbeing, if it meant they would have to stop taking part in any activities they usually take part in.
Examples of evidence to submit
For any bank statements, payslips, bills etc, you will want to provide evidence of this from the last 6 months, ensuring you provide evidence for each month within that 6 month period.
- Bank statements
- Payslips, tax returns, invoices if self-employed
- Title deed and recent mortgage statement or tenancy agreement
- Utility bills
- Letter from local authority or charity if they are providing you support
- Letter from friends and family who have previously or currently provide you with support
- Letter from hospital consultant (if you or a dependent family member has a physical or mental disability).
If for whatever reason you are unable to provide relevant documentary evidence, the Guidance tells caseworkers to ensure they are satisfied with your reason for why the evidence is not available. The Home Office may also contact you for further evidence if they believe something is missing.
The Guidance says that individuals who fail to disclose their financial circumstances in full, or who provide false information, may have current or future applications for leave to enter or remain refused because of their conduct.
What happens when my fee waiver request is granted?
If granted, you will be issued with a Unique Reference Number which you use when completing your main immigration application. Version 6.0 of the Home Office’s Fee Waiver Guidance states that your application for leave to remain in the UK must be submitted within 10 working days of the date of the fee waiver decision (however, paragraph 34G(4) of the Immigration Rules stresses it’s 10 days on receipt of the fee waiver decision). You must also make a Service and Support Centre (SSC) appointment within 17 working days. Failure to do this could result in the URN no longer being valid and you may have to submit a new fee waiver request.
What happens if my fee waiver request is refused?
If your fee waiver request is refused, you cannot request for the decision to be reconsidered. In order to avoid becoming an overstayer, you would need to submit and pay for the relevant immigration application to extend your leave to remain within 10 days on receipt of the fee waiver decision.
What is the processing time for fee waiver applications?
There is no specific processing time for fee waiver applications. However, Home Office caseworkers are told to make “reasonable efforts to decide such requests promptly, especially those involving a child or an applicant who is disabled or otherwise in vulnerable circumstances.”
What happens if my leave to remain expires whilst waiting for the decision on my fee waiver request?
If your leave to remain expires whilst you are waiting for an outcome on your fee waiver application, your leave would have been extended under Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971, also known as ‘Section 3C leave’. Therefore, as long as you applied for a fee waiver before your current leave expires, you will still have valid leave to remain in the UK once your current leave to remain expires and whilst waiting for the decision on your fee waiver application–this is subject to you then making an application for leave to remain within 10 days from the day you receive the fee waiver decision. You can read more about Section 3C leave on our blog here.
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