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Your Ultimate Guide to Home Office Fee Waivers

Paying the Home Office fee has long been a challenge for individuals with limited incomes, and the recent surge in fees has exacerbated this issue. With the cost of a 30-month visa now reaching approximately £3700 (including immigration health surcharge) and even higher for a five-year visa, families find themselves facing significant financial hurdles. In this article, we will explore the mechanism for a fee waiver to alleviate this burden.

The leading case laws dealing with the fee waiver are,

R (Omar) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 3448 (Admin

R (Carter) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014]

R (Dzineku-Liggison & Ors) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fee Waiver Guidance v3 unlawful) [2020] UKUT 222 (IAC)

Fee waivers are not available to everyone; they are specifically designed for individuals who meet the below criteria:

  1. Financial Hardship: The individual cannot afford the fee.
  2. Destitution: The individual is destitute
  3. Imminent Destitution: The individual is at risk of imminent destitution.

Understanding what constitutes basic needs is crucial. These include accommodation, utilities, food, clothing, toiletries, and reasonable travel for social, cultural, and religious activities. It is important to avoid extravagant travel expenses, as they will not align with the waiver criteria.

For those who can partially cover the fee, partial fee waivers are an option. For example, if an applicant can pay the Home Office fee but not the Immigration Health Surcharge, they can request a partial waiver. Similarly if an applicant can pay his/her own fee but not his/her dependents’, he/she can seek a waiver for them.

Timing is critical in the application process. Fee waiver applications can be submitted at any time before visa expiry for those with valid leave to remain in the UK. Even individuals overstaying or entering illegally can still apply for a waiver. If a visa expires while awaiting a fee waiver decision, Section 3c of the immigration rules protects the applicant’s rights, allowing them to work and rent, provided the fee waiver application was made before visa expiry.

Fee waivers are applicable to various applications, including further leave to remain under private or family life routes and the registration of a child as a British Citizen. In certain situations, fee waiver applications can even be made from outside the UK.

It is important to note that fee waivers are not applicable to settlement applications. If settlement is the goal, applicants will need to seek further extensions, accumulate funds, and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) later on, unless there are policy changes.

A common concern among applicants is whether requesting a fee waiver affects the application outcome. The answer is no; the Home Office cannot refuse an application solely based on a fee waiver request. If genuine financial constraints exist, applicants should proceed with confidence.

Navigating the Home Office fee waiver process can be complex, but with a clear understanding of the criteria and procedures involved, applicants can successfully alleviate the financial burden associated with immigration applications.

Author – Shahzad Saeed, Director & Solicitor. Should you wish to contact him, feel free to reach out to him via email/phone.