top of page

What to do if you cannot afford immigration fees

Immigration fees can be a major obstacle to finalising your leave to remain application. Most applications require the applicable fee to be paid before the application can be submitted. Immigration fees can be expensive and are normally separate to the fees of your legal representative. In order to submit your application for leave to remain, you might also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). All that might seem overwhelming, but the good news is that you might be able to request a fee waiver if you are applying for permission to stay in the UK. If the Home Office accepts your request for fee waiver, you will not have to pay the visa application fee.


Who can apply for a fee waiver? - Immigration Fees

You may be eligible for a fee waiver if any of the follow applies to you:

  • you’re a partner, parent or dependant child of someone who has a family visa or has permission to stay in the UK on the basis of their private life

  • you’ve got ‘Discretionary Leave’ or ‘Leave outside the Immigration Rules’ on human rights grounds where you were refused refugee status or humanitarian protection

  • you have permission to stay in the UK because you’re a victim of modern slavery or human trafficking

  • you do not have a place to live in the UK and you cannot afford one

  • you have a place to live but cannot afford essential living costs like food or heating

  • you have a very low income and paying the fee would harm your child’s wellbeing

Once you establish that you are eligible to apply for the fee waiver, the next step is to

familiarise yourself with the fee waiver process.


How do I apply for a fee waiver?

You can find the fee waiver application on the Home Office's website using this form. It is crucial to select the correct category in which you will be applying for further leave to remain (see the table below). The fee waiver application is free. If you have dependants applying with you, you will need to include their details on the same form. It is also important to remember that if you get a fee waiver, you can then apply for a visa. The two systems are separate, which means that two separate applications are required. Applying for a fee waiver does not decrease your chance of getting a positive decision on your main visa application.


If you already have a visa or leave to remain

You must apply for a fee waiver no more than 28 days before your current leave to remain expires. Once you make a fee waiver application, all of your existing rights and entitlements will continue as if you had made a leave to remain application. This extended leave is known as Section 3C leave, under Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971. This means that as long as you applied for a fee waiver 28 days or less before your leave expires, you do not need to worry if you have not had a response from the Home Office by the time your existing leave expires.

If you do not currently have a visa or leave to remain

You must apply for a fee waiver before you apply for leave to remain. It is up to you when you apply for the fee waiver application, but remember that you will be given 10 working days to upload all your supporting documents onto the UVKI portal after the submission of your fee waiver application.


What to do if you cannot afford immigration fees

What happens once I submit my fee waiver application?

After you submit the online application, you will have 10 working days to upload all supporting documents to the UKVI portal. Your supporting documents should prove that you cannot afford to pay either all or part of the application fee. For example, if you are an elderly person living with your adult child in the UK, who is acting as your sponsor, and you and your child cannot afford the fees, that is all you really need to show. If you have a minor child, you can also get a fee waiver if you can show that you and your sponsor’s combined income is not enough to meet your child’s needs.


Uploading correct supporting documents is key to a successful fee waiver application. After you submit the fee waiver application, a “Documents checklist” will be generated, which should guide you as to which documents you need to provide, as a minimum.


Generally, the documents which you need to provide include:

  • A copy of your passport photo page

  • A copy of your BRP (if you have one)

  • 6 months of bank statements for all accounts you hold (and all bank statements for all accounts of your sponsor if you have one)

  • An explanation of the income and outgoings from your account to cover any regular or large transactions (every transaction above £150 should be annotated – you can add handwritten comments on the printed bank statements)

  • 6 months of payslips and any other income you have (or 6 months of payslips of your sponsor)

  • A letter from your employer confirming your employment (or confirmation of the

  • employment of your sponsor)

  • Your tenancy agreement/mortgage bills (or of your sponsor)

  • 6 months of bills, including utility bills and council tax

  • Letters from individuals who have loaned you money

  • Evidence of any health issues you or your dependents have

Although not compulsory, a cover letter explaining why you cannot pay the fee is useful. You can take this opportunity to explain your income, expenses and any other factors which make it difficult for you to afford the fees. You can also give detail about anything it isn't possible to explain on the online application form. You can submit your cover letter along with your supporting documents. We can assist you with drafting a cover letter.


Potential outcomes of the fee waiver application

You should normally expect to wait around 4-6 weeks for a decision for your fee waiver application. In some cases, the Home Office may request additional evidence before making a decision – be sure to provide this within ten working days of the request.


Fee Waiver Granted (Fully)

If you are granted a full fee waiver, you will not have to pay the application fee or the IHS fee. Your decision letter will contain a code which can be used when making your application for leave to remain. The code will be valid for 10 working days.

What to do if you cannot afford immigration fees

Fee Waiver Granted (Partially)

If you are granted a partial fee waiver, you will either be exempt from paying the application fee or the IHS fee. Your decision letter will confirm which of these you will not have to pay and it will also contain a code which can be used when making your application for leave to remain. The code will be valid for 10 working days.


Fee Waiver Refused

If you refused a fee waiver, there are a few options available:

  • You can apply again with better evidence – this is not a suitable option for people who are renewing their leave to remain.

  • You can challenge the refusal through judicial review – this is usually not practical for people who are renewing their leave to remain. This is because judicial reviews can take a long time, but your leave will expire if you don’t apply for further leave within 10 days of the fee waiver decision.

  • You can find a way to pay the fee and make your leave to remain application within 10 working days.

Contact us if you think you are eligible for a fee waiver application. We will thoroughly assess your financial circumstances and provide advice on the suitability of this application for you.

Comments


bottom of page