Provisions for applicants who cannot afford Home Office fees

Application fees and Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fees have risen significantly over the years, making them unaffordable to many applicants. For those who cannot afford the fees, it may be possible to obtain a fee waiver.

A fee waiver can be granted to those who can demonstrate one of the following:

  • They are destitute;
  • They are at risk of imminent destitution;
  • Their income is not sufficient to meet a child’s particular and essential additional needs; or
  • They cannot afford the fee.

Following successful legal challenges, the Home Office has amended the qualification criteria to make it easier for applicants to qualify for a fee waiver. As a result, applicants are no longer expected to borrow money from friends or relatives to pay for Home Office fees and it is now sufficient to show that the applicant cannot afford the fee without having to prove destitution.

The burden is, however, on the applicant to show that they qualify for a fee waiver, which means fee waiver applications often require submitting a lot of evidence to be successful.

Eligibility also depends on the application type. Applications eligible for a fee waiver are:

  • Applications for leave to remain in the 5 year parent route
  • Applications for leave to remain in the 5 partner route who are relying on ‘adequate maintenance’ to meet the financial requirement
  • Applications for leave to remain in the 10 year parent, partner or private life route
  • Applications for further leave to remain for those granted Discretionary Leave following refusal of asylum or humanitarian protection
  • Applications for further Discretionary Leave from victims of trafficking or slavery who have had a positive decision, have accrued 30 months’ Discretionary Leave and are seeking to extend it for reasons relating trafficking or slavery

There is no provision for obtaining a fee waiver for an indefinite leave to remain (ILR) application or a citizenship application.

A fee waiver application must be submitted online before expiry of leave and the substantive immigration application must be made after receiving the decision. It is important that the correct procedure is followed to ensure that the applicant does not become an overstayer, especially in the case that the fee waiver application is refused.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties and believe you may be eligible, contact us for advice on how you can evidence your eligibility or assistance with the application.