Most UK visa applications require payment of a fee before submission. However, you may wish to seek a refund for the paid fee in various circumstances. We will explain some scenarios in which you may be eligible for the refund of your UK visa application fee and how you can apply for it.
Please note that this post does not cover refunds for the immigration health surcharge.
What are the rules for the UK visa application fee refunds?
The Secretary of State has the general power to refund any UK visa or immigration application fee. Pursuant to Paragraph 13D of the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations 2018 (as amended on 05/10/2020):
“The Secretary of State may refund any fee, or any part of a fee, paid under these Regulations.”
However, if you have made a valid UK visa or immigration application, which the Home Office has considered and then either granted or refused, the general position is that you will not be eligible for the refund. In other words, there is no refund for UK visas and immigration applications which have been refused.
The question then arises when you can receive a refund of a UK visa application fee.
There are several situations in which the Home Office must issue a refund of your UK visa application fee
Your application comes under the category of fee exemption. Some immigration routes are exempt from fee requirements. Examples include applications for asylum; applications based on Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (prohibition against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment); leave to remain under the Destitution Domestic Violence Concession; and applications made by children in local authority care. If you paid a fee for any of the above applications, the Home Office is under a legal obligation to reimburse it.
Your application was invalid. Depending on the type of application, there are specific criteria which must be satisfied in order to make a valid application, including payment of the specified fee. If an application is rejected as invalid, it will not be considered by Home Office. In these circumstances, where a fee has been paid, it must be refunded minus a £25 administrative charge, as specified in the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations.
Your application was inappropriate or void. If you submit an application which could never be considered or becomes such during the consideration process, either because of the status you already hold or because of the provisions of law, the application cannot proceed. In these circumstances, the application must be cancelled (voided), and the full fee refunded. This generally happens in the following situations:
You have applied for the limited permission to stay, but you already have (or during processing you obtained) settlement in the UK (you have misunderstood your residence permit and did not realise that you already have settlement);
You have applied for entry clearance, but you are exempt from requiring entry clearance (for example, if you are a member of the home forces or a diplomat- exemption is a matter of law);
The applicant has died, and you have notified the Home Office before a decision is made.
How can you contact the Home Office for a fee refund?
If you have submitted your application but have not yet provided your biometrics or uploaded your documents, you should withdraw your application in order to obtain a refund. You can do this by doing the following:
- If you were asked to attend a biometrics appointment, you should use this form to withdraw your application. If you applied outside the UK and used AccessUK, you should log on to your account and go to ‘Section 6: further actions’ to cancel your application.
- If you have been invited to use the smartphone app to verify your identity and upload documents, you should sign into your account using the link from your sign-up email. You should then select the option ‘Withdraw this application’. You should receive a refund if you have not yet uploaded your documents.
If you have already provided your biometrics or uploaded documents but are entitled to a refund for some other reason, this should, in theory, be granted automatically. If a Home Office caseworker spots that your application is invalid or void, they must provide a refund, even if they have not received a specific request from you or your immigration adviser.
However, it may be advisable to contact UKVI to withdraw your application and request a refund. It may be necessary to do this where, for example, the applicant has died and you are acting on behalf of his or her estate (e.g., you were his or her agent).
Contact details for UKVI can be found here.