You can apply for fee waiver online if you are submitting a specified human rights application and you are not able to pay the Home Office UKVI fees for the application. Home Office UKVI decision makers are required to take into account the whole of the amount to be paid by an applicant when a fee waiver request is made. The whole of the amount means the immigration application fee, and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) combined.  Where an applicant can pay the whole of the immigration fee but none, or only part of the IHS, the immigration fee will be required, and the waiver will be applied to the IHS. If the applicant is unable to pay the fee or the IHS, the Home Office UKVI will waive both.

How To Apply?

From 4 January 2019, fee waiver requests are to be made using the digital (online) request form and submitting the request online. The relevant application for leave to remain form can also be accessed online and completed at the same time. This online form can then be exited and stored until the outcome of the fee waiver request. When the outcome of the fee waiver request has been received, this online leave to remain form can then beretrieved and the application submitted.

Eligibility For Fee Waiver

Applicants who are eligible are those making certainspecified human rights applications whereto require payment of the fee before deciding the application would be incompatible with a person’srights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

In addition, the fee waiver policy also applies toapplications from victims of trafficking who seek to extend their leave to remain in certain circumstances.The courts have considered fee waivers in an immigration context in two important judgments:

A fee waiver may be granted if the applicant is assessed and it is found that any of the following apply:

  • they are not able to pay the fee
  • they are destitute
  • they are at risk of imminent destitution
  • their income is not sufficient to meet a child’s particular and additional needs
  • they are faced with exceptional financial circumstances

Applications To Which Fee Waiver Applies

The fee waiver applies to the following types of application:

  • applications for leave to remain under the 5-year partner route from applicants who are not required to meet the minimum income threshold because their sponsor is in receipt of one or more specified benefits and who instead must demonstrate that their sponsor can provide adequate maintenance
  • applications for leave to remain under the 5-year parent route
  • applications for leave to remain under the 10-year partner, parent or private life route, where the applicant claims that refusal of that application for leave to remain would breach their rights (or the rights of other specified persons) under ECHR Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life)
  • applications for leave to remain on the basis of other ECHR rights
  • applications forfurther leave to remain from applicants granted discretionary leave (DL) following refusal of asylum or humanitarian protection, where the applicant claims that refusal to grant further leave to remain would breach their ECHR rights
  • applications for further DL from victims of trafficking or slavery who have had a positive conclusive grounds decision from a competent authority of the national referral mechanism (NRM), have already accrued 30 months’ DL and are seeking to extend it for reasons related to trafficking or slavery.

In all the above, parents do not have to have requested a fee waiver in order for their children to be eligible to apply for a fee waiver.

Effect Of Fee Waiver Application On Leave To Remain

The fee waiver request is not an application for leave to remain and therefore it is important to know how this request affects any current leave to remain that is held and the leave to remain application.

Requests for a fee waiver made by those who have current Leave to Remain, and whose leave expires whilst their fee waiver request is being considered, will be allowed 10 days from the actual date of their fee waiver decision to submit an applicationfor Leave to Remain or Further Leave to Remain. After this, their leave will be treated as expired.Requests for a fee waiver made by those without current Leave to Remain mean that the applicant will not beable to benefit from the 10 days period allowed above.  Online applicants granted a fee waiver will also receive an electronic pass to use when resuming their application allowing them to proceed without paying fee. Online applicants without a fee waiver will have to submit the relevant fee in orderto resume with Leave or Further Leave application. 

What Is Partial Fee Waiver?

The expression “partial fee waiver” is explained to make clear that it refers to the ability to have a fee waiver applied to individual members of a family applying at the same time. It does not mean that in respect of anyone individual applicant part of the fee can be waived and part of the fee paid.

If family members are applying together, there is scope for one or more family members who are dependants to be granted a fee waiver. This can be done by an applicant completing a request form for the individual dependent family members for whom a fee waiver is requested, or by the main applicant stating that they can pay the fee for their application (and possibly for some dependants) but are unable to pay the fee for all of their dependants. In these circumstances, the main applicant will be asked to specify which dependants are applying for a fee waiver and which are not.  However, it is not possible in respect of any one individual applicant for part of the fee to be waived and part of the fee paid.

Circumstances To Be Considered

The Home Office UKVI caseworker will into consideration the following circumstances in deciding a fee waiver application:

Best Interest Of The Children

In assessing the fee waiver application the Home Office UKVI caseworker must have regard to the duty under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to safeguard and promote the welfare of any affected child, and therefore to the best interestsof any such child as a primary consideration.

Financial Circumstances

When applying for a fee waiver the applicant will be asked to provide details of their financial circumstances. This will mainly be in the form of statements covering the 6 months period prior to the date of application for all bank or building society accounts they hold, and a full breakdown of their monthly income and expenditure at the time of application. Applicants who fail to disclose their financial circumstances in full, or who provide false information in their fee waiver request, may have current or future applications for leave to enter or remain refused becauseof their conduct.

Fee Waiver Based On Destitution

An applicant claiming to be destitute will need to provide evidence that they are destitute. In all cases,the onus is on the applicant to provide evidence that they are destitute by providing the information requested in the application form, and any documentary evidence of their financial circumstances. In considering whether an applicant qualifies for a fee waiver on the basis of destitution, the Home Office UKVI caseworker will normally consider that:

  • those who already have limited leave to remain will normally be entitled to work in the UK. There should normally be evidence of working, or seeking employment, or reasons why this is not possible
  • where the applicant is applying for leave under the 10-year partner route, their partner will be a British citizen or settled in the UK and will have access to work and to any public funds for which they qualify. It is therefore unlikely that the applicant will be destitute. In these circumstances the applicant should providean explanation of why their partner’s income is insufficient to be able to support them
  • where the applicant is applying for the private life route, they will generally have lived in the UK for a significant period. To show that they are currently destitute the applicant will have to explain how they have previously supported themselves in the UK and why their previous means of support are no longer available to them
  • if a person has been without any formal or obvious means of support (such as income from employment or local authority support) for a prolonged period, it may be reasonable for the Home Office caseworker to assume that the person has had, and may continue to have, access to an alternative form of support (for example, income from overseas or from a relative or friend), unless the applicant provides evidence that this is not the case or that their circumstances have changed and that they are now without any means of support
  • the applicant will need to provide relevant evidence of their income and expenditure so that their disposable income can be calculated. The Home Office caseworkers will need to use their judgement in assessing the applicant’s evidence of income and expenditure to determine whether this goes beyond essential living needs and can only be regarded as extravagant in relation to their circumstances and obligations, including fee payments
  • An applicant would normally be expected to make their application for leave to remain close to the expiry date of their current basis of lawful stay and could reasonably be expected to save towards that from their disposable income. An assessment may sometimes have to be made as to whether an applicant could have done so but has not. In such a case, a fee waiver may still be granted so that the applicant can proceed to having a leave to remain application considered, providing the applicant has not behaved with blatant disregard for the public purse in leaving him or herself without the means to meet foreseeable expenditure. If they have, then a fee waiver may be refused, and the applicant advised accordingly.
  • The Home Office caseworkers can also consider whether the applicant has intentionally disposed of funds.
  • Although a fee waiver will not normally be granted where evidence of destitution is not provided, or where an applicant cannot show that they would be rendered destitute by paying the fee, there may be exceptional circumstances affecting the applicant’s expenditure which mean that a fee waiver should be granted. Exceptional circumstances at this point relates only to the applicant’s financial circumstances and their ability to pay the application fee. For instance, if the applicant is not destitute and would not be rendered destitute by paying the fee but cannot afford to pay it because, in relation to their income, they incur significant additional expenditure to provide for a child’s well-being needs. This does not mean discretionary items, but it does mean substantial items such as travel to special needs facilities, or expenses linked to responding to illness, or long term health conditions or disability. A decision on whether there are exceptional circumstances should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into accountthe applicant’s individual circumstances and those of any dependent family memberand all the information and evidence the applicant provides in support of their fee waiver request. It is for the applicant to provide evidence that there is something exceptional about their financial circumstances and ability to pay that warrant granting the fee waiver request, even though they are not destitute or likely to be rendered destitute by payment.
  • The fee waiver request form asks for details of household income and assets. This therefore includes income and assets belonging to theapplicant’s spouse or partner, (as well as any other adult with whom the applicant lives and from whom they receive financial support) and to their children and any other dependants.

Evidential Flexibility

Evidential flexibility means that the decision maker can grant the fee waiver without seeking further additional evidence or documentation if they are satisfied that reasonable evidence has been provided in the round as to the applicant’s circumstances and that, without a fee waiver, the applicant will not be able to apply for leave to remain.Situations in which the decisionmaker may be flexible in requiring further additional evidence are as follows:

  • the applicant is a single parent and restricted in seeking and taking employment due to the need to look after children (this includes both pre-school children and children who can no longer attend a school due to COVID-19 restrictions)
  • cases where eviction notices have been issued, or eviction has actually taken place
  • cases where family, friends, or an identifiable organisation is providing essential living needs, e.g. a charity or food bank, and the applicant has no other means of being provided with essential living needs
  • the applicant is the parent or main guardian of a child who is not attending school because of COVID-19 concerns
  • there is evidence of vulnerability related to pregnancy, a long-term health condition, disability, or mental illness-this includes dependants as well as the applicant

There is no automatic presumption that an application will be successful, but if the case meets any of the conditions set out above, the effect of that will be to require the decision maker to consider if further information and evidence is necessary. Although the above list is not exhaustive it is not expected that there will be many other types of cases where evidential flexibility will be appropriate. Each case should still be considered on its own individual merits. Whether to apply evidential flexibility can still be outweighed by other relevant matters, including the intentional disposal of funds and other countervailing evidence.

Granting The Fee Waiver Request

Decision makers are required to take into account the whole of the amount to be paid by an applicant when a fee waiver request is made. The whole of the amount means the immigration application fee, and the Immigration Health Surcharge combined.  Where an applicant can pay the whole of the immigration fee but none, or only part of the Immigration Health Surcharge, the immigration fee will be required, and the exemption will be applied to the Immigration Health Surcharge. If the applicant is unable to pay the fee or the IHS both are to be waived.

If an applicant is granted a fee waiver they will be issued with a Unique Reference Number to be used when applying for LTR online. This application must be submitted within 10 working days of the date of the decision and they must then make an SSC appointment within 17 working days. Failureto do this could result in the URN no longer being valid and a new fee waiver application may be required.

Refusing The Fee Waiver Request

If the caseworker is not satisfied the applicant qualifies for a fee waiver then:

  • if the applicant made their request for a fee waiver in time (for example they had valid leave on the date their application was submitted), they would normally be advised that they do not qualify for a fee waiver and that they should submit the additional evidence requested that demonstrates they qualify for a fee waiver. They must, within 10 working days submit additional evidence that demonstrates they qualify for a fee waive.
  • if additional evidence is provided within that period that demonstrates the applicant qualifies for a fee waiver the applicant is issued with a fee waiver token that enables them to apply for a free immigration application. The applicant has 10 working days to make an LTR application to retain 3C leave.
  • if the applicant provides further evidence within 10 working days but this does not demonstrate that they qualify for a fee waiver, the application would be refused. If no further evidence is provided within 10 working days, the application would be refused. The applicant has 10 working days to make a paid LTR application to retain 3C leave. If a paid application is not made within 10 working days, the applicant's 3C leave will expire.

How Can We Help?

Our expert team of immigration solicitors specialise in fee waiver applications. If instructed to represent you regarding your application for fee waiver, we will carry out all the work on your application until a decision is made by the Home Office UKVI on your fee waiver application. The immigration casework to be carried out by our expert team of immigration solicitors on your fee waiver application will include the following:

  • Assessing your eligibility for fee waiver by considering financial circumstances;
  • Advising you on the weaknesses and strengths of your fee waiver application;
  • Advising you on the relevant documents to be submitted in support of your fee waiver application;
  • Assessing your documents to ensure that the documentary evidence is as per requirements of the Home Office UKVI;
  • Completing and submitting the online application form to apply for fee waiver by gathering all the relevant information from you;
  • Where necessary, preparing detailed witness statement of the applicant and/or the sponsor explaining their personal financial circumstances;
  • Preparing a detailed cover letter to introduce and support your application for fee waiver;
  • Uploading online all the relevant supporting documents to be considered in support of the fee waiver application;
  • Liaising with the Home Office UKVI for a timely decision on your fee waiver application.

How Much We Charge

Unless your matter is very complicated, our fixed fees for fee waiver application are as given in the table below:

Our Service Our Fee
Full service for fee waiver application to  cover all the work until decision by the Home Office UKVI From £500 + VAT To £800 + VAT

The agreed fixed fee will depend on the complexity of the fee waiver application and the volume of casework involved in the fee waiver application.

Our Team Of Leading Immigration Lawyers

As specialist immigration lawyers, we pride in having one of the best team of specialist immigration solicitors and lawyers with wealth of knowledge and experience to deal with all types of UK visa and immigration matters. Our top rated immigration lawyers have successfully helped thousands of clients with all types of UK visa and immigration applications, immigration appeals, Administrative Review, Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) and Judicial Review (JR).

Following are the leading immigration lawyers and solicitors in our team of immigration lawyers:

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