Applying for a fee waiver for an immigration application in the UK

Legal Updates

Applying for a visa in the UK is extremely expensive. The government has recently massively increased immigration visa fees – by as much as 35% in some cases – meaning that the process has now become unaffordable for many people.

However, it is possible to apply for a fee waiver, which means that if you are successful in your application, you can get a visa for free.

Because of the recent increases to immigration visa fees, more people will now be eligible for a fee waiver. It is very important that people have information about who is eligible for a fee waiver, and the process of applying for one, as it could save them huge expense.

This short blog explains how to make a fee waiver application, and what is currently happening with fee waiver applications. Please note that this blog is about the process of applying for a fee waiver from inside the UK. It is possible to apply for a fee waiver from outside of the UK in certain (limited) circumstances which are not covered here. Read more about this here

Who is eligible for a fee waiver? 

You will be eligible for a fee waiver if: 

  • You cannot afford the visa application fee
  • You are destitute
  • You are at risk of being destitute
  • Your income is not enough to meet a child’s additional needs

For example, if you are on the 10 year route to indefinite leave to remain, and you are applying on the basis of family or private life, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. If this is successful, you do not have to pay the whole application fee. 

You can apply for a fee waiver for just the Immigration Health Surcharge if you are able to pay the fee for making your immigration/human rights application. If you cannot afford to pay the application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge, you can apply for a fee waiver for both.

Do I need a lawyer to make my fee waiver application? 

You do not need to have a lawyer to submit a fee waiver application. The reality is that there is a shortage of lawyers who can help with these applications for free, and if you need a fee waiver you will likely not be able to afford a private lawyer. 

However, if your fee waiver application is granted, you have 10 working days to make your application for leave to remain. You will be given a token code that allows you to apply for a visa without paying the application fee, and this code will only be valid for 10 days. 

This means that when you apply for your fee waiver,  you must also be prepared to make your application for leave to remain. If you do not submit your application within 10 days, your fee waiver will expire, and you will have to make a new application for a fee waiver. It is important that your leave to remain does not expire, otherwise you will become undocumented. 

We know that there is demand for more information about doing the fee waiver application and the application for leave to remain yourself. With the right guidance and preparation, it is possible to make the application yourself. 

If you have a problem with your fee waiver token code not working, you can try this email address to contact the Home Office: FeeWaiverTokenIssues@homeoffice.gov.uk

How do I make the fee waiver application?

You can apply for a fee waiver application yourself online here. It is free to apply for a fee waiver. 

There is an application form which you will need to fill out with information about your financial and family situation, explaining clearly why you cannot afford to pay the fee. Try to put as much information as possible in the application form itself. If you do have some income, write a cover letter clearly explaining why you can’t afford the fee.

Once the application form is submitted, you have 10 working days (this means all weekdays except weekends and public holidays like bank holidays) to upload your documents. It is a good idea to have all your supporting documents ready before you submit your application, so that you do not miss this 10 day deadline. You will have a link to an online portal where you have to upload supporting documents, such as 6 month bank statements, and letters from charities who have supported you. Remember, the evidence you provide must clearly show why you are destitute. You can ask a friend or supporter that you trust to help check your application and supporting documents with you.

Read more in the Home Office’s fee waiver policy here. For a detailed guide to making a fee waiver application, read our fee waiver section on our 10 year route Toolkit page here.

What is happening with fee waiver applications currently? 

During COVID-19, fee waiver applications were being granted quickly, and the process was quite straightforward. Recently, the Home Office has become stricter with fee waiver applications. There have been more explanatory emails and more requests for further information. More fee waivers applications are also being rejected than before.

There are also more delays for the outcome of fee waiver applications. We have heard that some people are waiting as long as 5 months for a decision. Sometimes, in cases of a long delay, the Home Office might ask for updated information from you – such as your most recent bank statements. Be prepared for this, and try to respond to any requests for more information from the Home Office within 10 days. 

One possible way to speed up a decision on your fee waiver application can be to upload a cover letter into your online portal explaining how long you have been waiting, why this wait has been difficult, and that you are expecting a decision to come soon. In some cases, uploading a letter speeds up the Home Office decision making. Please note – this will not necessarily be a positive decision, but it might make a decision come quicker. Some people have been contacting the Home Office about a long delay on this email address: FeeWaiversEntryClearance@homeoffice.gov.uk or FHRDecisionService@homeoffice.gov.uk, or fhrufwrcocq@homeoffice.gov.uk.

Section 3c Leave

If you have submitted an application for a fee waiver before the expiry of your previous leave, your permission to stay in the UK will continue because of something called Section 3c Leave. This means that your previous grant of leave will continue. 

Sometimes employers do not know about Section 3c Leave, which can cause a problem for your work. In fact, when you have Section 3c Leave, you are still entitled to work exactly as before. However, there is no legal obligation for an employer to carry out right-to-work checks to confirm that a person is eligible to work, so sometimes they will not do so. You may be able to use a ‘share code’ to prove your status to others, which you can access here. You can send a letter to your employer asking them to use the Employer Checking Service to see your right to work. 

If you experience a long delay in hearing from an application for a fee waiver, you might find it harder to prove eligibility to work. This is because the Employment Checking Service is only valid for 6 months: the employer sometimes (wrongly) thinks that at the end of that 6 months, that you are no longer eligible to work. In these cases, it is worth explaining to your employer that the delay is outside of your control, but that you still have Section 3c Leave because you submitted a valid application for a fee waiver or extension of your leave to remain in time.  

Remember, Section 3c Leave only applies if you have existing leave. This is why it is so important to make an application before the expiry date of your leave. Otherwise you will become undocumented. The deadline is midnight on the expiry date. 

It is important to plan ahead for your fee waiver application, as well as for your application for leave to remain. It is a good idea to start preparing for your fee waiver application at least 4 weeks before the expiry of your leave to remain. Even if your visa renewal is not yet due, it is a really good idea to plan ahead for your fee waiver application if you cannot afford the fee, or do not think you will be able to afford the fees when the time comes. Remember that because of the recent visa fee increases, more people will be eligible for fee waivers than before. 

57 comments on “Applying for a fee waiver for an immigration application in the UK

  1. Iqra on

    Hey
    I have applied for fee waiver and it been 5 months now i have received any update i have even email to home office on above email addresses but those email are on auto response which says you mail cannot be delivered.
    Is there any new email address where i can get response.
    Thank you

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      Hi, thanks for your message and sorry to hear about the massive delay you have experienced waiting for the outcome of your fee waiver application. It could be that the Home Office is no longer monitoring the email addresses provided. You might want to try this email address: fhrufwcocqueries@homeoffice.gov.uk

      In solidarity, Right to Remain

      Reply
      • Iqra on

        Hi
        Thank you so much to reply me i have received email and asked me to most recent bank statements of bank accounts which i have send them again so now how long they will take to make a descion?
        Thanks

        Reply
      • Iqra on

        Hey,
        I have received email from home office and they asked me to send them most recent bank statments etc i have uploaded but my question is how long does home office take to make decision?
        Thank you

        Reply
        • right-to-remain on

          Hi Iqra, thanks for your message. Unfortunately it is not easy to say exactly when the Home Office will make a decision on your fee waiver application. We have heard that some people are waiting as long as 5 months for a decision. You have done the right thing in responding to the request for your most recent bank statements. In solidarity, Right to Remain

          Reply
          • Mike on

            Hi please I don’t understand, when a workers given 60 days to find another job or leave UK after 60 days. Do I need to fill fee weiver together with Section 3C?.

            Also what sort of evidence to provide to home office. The thing is employees licence has been cancelled and home office gave the employees 60 days to find new employment which is a bit difficult at the moment, so I want to apply for fee weiver, so am not sure if it’s submitted together with 3C

            Thank you so much for your very educative blog, a lot of people are engaging Lawers and I noticed here that a person can do the fee weiver without the need to pay a lawyer

          • right-to-remain on

            Thanks so much for your comment Mike. You might be interested in reading our Key Guide on Work Exploitation and Migrant Workers Rights, here It has more information on the visa sponsorship system, which means that if you want to change your employer who is also your visa sponsor, you have just 60 days to do so. You may also be interested in our page on Visas.

            You do not make an application for Section 3c leave, this is something that applies to you automatically if you submitted an application for a fee waiver or leave to remain before the expiry of your current leave.

            In solidarity, Right to Remain

  2. Andrieli Figueredo on

    If the fee increase non in February and our application is refused, do we need to pay the new prices, they’ve doble now, will be impossible for us, my application is already there for 3 months :(

    Reply
  3. Emmanuel A Ogidigah on

    I applied for a visa application fee waiver five days before my visa expiry date. This was because I put in an application for a family visa and already paid ihs and could not afford to pay the visa application fee its self. It was on the page I saw I could apply which I did. I had issue proving my right to work at my work so I couldn’t work. But they called me to say there was an error in communication and would be paid by 31 and my visa expires 30th Jan 2024. I already put down an application for a visa fee waiver. Is it still possible to pay for the other application on the 31st?

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      Hi Emmanuel, thank you for your message. See the information in the blog above about proving your right to work with your employer – because you submitted an in-time application for a fee waiver your previous grant of leave will continue because of Section 3c Leave. You can use the template letter to share this information with your employer. You might want to ask for legal advice at a law centre near you. In solidarity, Right to Remain.

      Reply
  4. Emmanuel on

    Hi, I applied for fee waiver for my 10 year parent route extension on 4th October 2023 and up to now no response from The home office. It is 4 months now and my job has said if I do not update my status by April they will sack me. I don’t know what to do now.Please advice me , can I cancel and borrow money to pay?

    Reply
  5. Emmanuel on

    Hi, I applied for fee waiver on the 4th October 2023 and up to date no response from home office. Now my work has give me ultimatum that by April if I don’t provide them with the right to work document I will be sack. I’m really on the edge. Any advice?

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      Hi Emmanuel, sorry to hear about what you are experiencing.

      If you submitted an in-time application for a fee waiver (before the expiry of your previous grant of leave), your permission to stay and work in the UK will continue because of Section 3c Leave. When you have Section 3c Leave, you are still entitled to work exactly as before. You may be able to use a ‘share code’ to prove your status to your employer, which you can access following the link in the blog above. You can also send a letter to your employer asking them to use the Employer Checking Service to see your right to work.

      If you experience a long delay in hearing from an application for a fee waiver, you might find it harder to prove eligibility to work. This is because the Employment Checking Service is only valid for 6 months: the employer sometimes (wrongly) thinks that at the end of that 6 months, that you are no longer eligible to work. In these cases, it is worth explaining to your employer that the delay is outside of your control, but that you still have Section 3c Leave because you submitted a valid application for a fee waiver or extension of your leave to remain in time.

      In solidarity, Right to Remain

      Reply
      • halim on

        right to remain
        i have sumitted a fee waiver application, i was given a portal link to upload documents, which i did and i clicked submit
        my question is how do i know if my application went through , there was no email back confirming , i am worried cause my visa will expire soon, i just want ot make sure i have a proof that i submitted the waiver request

        Reply
        • right-to-remain on

          Hi thanks for your comment. This government website says you should get a confirmation email from the Home Office. Have you checked your spam and email filter? You could always try emailing the Home Office using the emails in the blog above. In solidarity, Right to Remain

          Reply
          • Naeem on

            Same thing happened to me I applied last year in October, and I didnt get any confirmation email and until now nothing from homeoffice. I have even contacted homeoffice, they said all you have to do is wait. If homeoffice need any more documents they will contact you themselves.

        • Steve Kan on

          I’ve applied for someone’s fee waiver. They send confirmation within minutes after you click Submit on portal.
          In your case go back to the portal and scroll down to the bottom there will be your reference number and application status.

          Reply
  6. Hafiz on

    Hi.can i apply for my new born.my ilr is in july 2024.baby born in dec 2023.can i apply fee waiver for my baby after my ilr??

    Reply
  7. Tanjila Zaman on

    Hi,

    I have submitted my fee waiver application on 29th of September. I haven’t heard anything yet. I am worried
    It’s 10 years family route. Please advise me what shall I do . Is there any number or email address I can chase.

    Kind Regards
    Tanjila

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      Hi Tanjila, sorry to hear about the delay you have experienced. Unfortunately lots of people are experiencing quite long delays at the moment. We have listed some possible emails in the blog above.

      Reply
  8. Roqeebat Babajide on

    Hello,

    I made a fee waiver application and it was approved and submitted a discretionary leave to remain application for private or family life March 2023, the application is still being considered and I’ve contacted my local MP and also the university of my daughter have also contacted the Home Office for a reply. Yet every time we have received a reply that is still being considered. Is there anything else we can do or an email to write a letter to to help the situation. Hope to hear back soon. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Sabiha amar on

      Hi how long exactly did it take for them to give your fee waiver decision as know one can seem to exactly give a timeline on how long it took so people can have some kind of estimate and hope. Its like if you apply for a fee waiver they make you more destitute

      Reply
      • right-to-remain on

        So sorry to hear about your delay in receiving a fee waiver decision. Unfortunately the Home Office does not say how long they will take, and we hear of people waiting for many months. We have recently published a new page on Destitution and Housing which may be of some help. In solidarity, Right to Remain.

        Reply
    • Muhammad on

      Hiya i applied for fee waiver in jan 2024 and havent received responss from HO yet. My leave is expiring end of march 2024. Should i wait for a decision for fee waiver or can i submit my application without fee until i get a response. I do not end up being an over stayer. Can you please guide me. Thanks

      Reply
      • right-to-remain on

        Hi Muhammad. Once you have submitted an in-time application for a fee waiver your rights and entitlements to live and work in the UK continue under what is called Section 3c Leave – explained in the blog above. It might be a good idea to check that your fee waiver application is still pending an update, and try and ask the Home Office to give you a response. In solidarity, Right to Remain.

        Reply
  9. kelly on

    If employee has made an application for a fee waiver prior to their visa expirey, but while waiting a decision on the fee waiver application, their visa has now expired, do they still have the right to work? If so do you have a link to this in legislation that you could share?

    Reply
  10. Topa Daniel on

    Hi, good day sir/madam.

    Pls I have applied for fee waiver application since August 28th 2023 and up till now no response, I have send an email 4 times now but still no reply as I am really worried and don’t no what to do.
    Any advice from you pls

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  11. Josh on

    Thanks for all you do.

    I am currently working on a Skilled Worker Visa with a monthly pay of ~£1900. The 2-bedroom apartment where I live with my wife costs £825, excluding bills and Band B council tax as well as other living expenses.

    At the moment, my wife is currently looking for a job so I am the main income earner and we barely break even.

    I recently got a better job offer and the employer is willing to provide CoS for a new Skilled Worker visa. The challenge is that with the new rates, it costs about £12,500 for both the visa application costs and the 5-year Immigration Health Surcharge. Unfortunately, we do not have any savings and cannot afford this cost. Do you think it is possible to get a fee waiver based on unaffordability?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  12. Sue on

    Thanks for this updates.I submitted my fee waiver since October 24th 2023 before my current leave to remain expires and haven’t heard anything from home office. My employer is asking me to prove my right to work again before the end of April.I am worried about the delay from the home office

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      Thanks for your comment. Because you submitted an in-time application for a fee waiver, your rights and entitlements (including your right to work) will continue under Section 3c leave. Some people may not understand Section 3c leave. If this happens, it can help to send them a letter explaining what 3C leave is, and what your rights are. Here is a website with a template letter you might want to use: https://www.childrenslegalcentre.com/resources/3c-leave-template-letter/

      Reply
  13. chaitanya on

    Hi,

    Currently am holding post study work permit visa which is valid until this month end . and i have appolied for fee waiver and got the application number. I have provided the same to my employer .. now they are asking for type of visa i applied for ? How can I mention that its a fee waiver ? is it a problem for my employemnet?

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      Hi there, you can explain to your employer about Section 3c leave which means your rights and entitlements continue. Good luck, Right to Remain

      Reply
  14. Salaiha Khalid on

    Iam working and my wages comes in my account weekly although they are limited but I don’t have right of work at the moment bcz of my immigration control … fortunately my company didn’t ask for updated visa … can I apply fee waiver before my LTR application ? Would it be effect on my current job ?

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      You can apply for a fee waiver before the expiry of your current leave. If you make an in time application, your rights will continue under what is called Section 3c leave. In solidarity, Right to Remain

      Reply
  15. Mina on

    Thanks for all you do.

    I am currently on skilled worker visa and my sponsor’s license was revoked. My leave has been shortened and I have not been able to get another sponsor. Now my leave will soon expire. If I make a fee waiver application before my leave expire to secure my legality and 3 weeks later I am able to get a new sponsor. Do I immediately make a skilled worker application update or I would need to make the application after certain time frame? Thanks

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      Hi there, sorry to hear about your situation. If you make an in-time application for a fee waiver before the expiry of your current leave, your rights and entitlements will continue under Section 3c Leave.

      Reply
  16. Farooq on

    Hello

    Can I send the cover letter to the home office while send the supporting documents for the fee waiver ???

    Home office is asking me to send the 6months bank statement..I need this early back while I filled the fee waiver application ..

    Why are they asking me to send it again ?

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      Hi Farooq, yes you can send over a cover letter to the Home Office. This can be useful sometimes in explaining all the documents you submit. After you have submitted, the Home Office can come back to you with requests for more information if they think there is something missing. Good luck, Right to Remain

      Reply
  17. Naeem on

    Hi I have applied for fee waiver but when i login to portal link it shows status pending. I was wondering if I can get any help, what does that mean?

    Reply
  18. sheila on

    hi, I sent an application for a fee waiver, at the time my kid’s dad had passed and it was a difficult time for my kids especially since my 2nd one was struggling mentally I did not send the documents needed and I was refused, I send another application on 27 feb but up till now I have still not heard from them and my leave to remain has expired now, when I called the home office they lady said my leave to remain will still extend because I have an application with them before my visa expired. my other problem is now Universal Credit has also said my rights will be removed since if I don’t prove my right to stay in the UK, I am not sure what to do now, i don’t want to lose my home this is crazy I feel I am bing punched from all sides not even considering my situation.

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      So sorry to hear about your experience, that sounds very difficult. Maybe you could attend a Citizens Advice Centre near you, or a Law Centre for free advice. In solidarity, Right to Remain.

      Reply
  19. Klea on

    Hi,
    I applied for fee waiver for my twins. Got the Home office application confirmation, then another email to submit the documents via portal.
    After submitting this documents there was no other email from Home Office confirming the documents were summited. However, when I log in unto the portal, and see the status of the application is: “pending update”
    Please does someone has an explanation for this, is it the same with everyone when they log in to the portal?

    Reply
  20. ODO OGBONNAYA ODO on

    What if my application for a waiver is rejected, how many days will the home office give me to fully pay for my visa application or leave UK

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      Hi there. It depends if you are making a new application or renewing your leave. If you are renewing your leave to remain your leave will expire if you don’t apply for further leave within 10 days of the fee waiver decision.

      Reply
  21. Philip on

    I have made numerous Fee waiver applications, i am sponsor for my wife. On each occasion rejected for petty reason and evidence that they do not read all provided documents sent.

    Example. Have sent in letter of support and clearly state sole financial provider, now they ask for documentation to this effect..

    Can you advise
    Next they ask for Annotated Bank Statements, don’t even know what they want.

    I provided a breakdown of all transactions over £ 250 and they said it not clear what these transactions were..

    Where do wrote go next.

    Reply
    • right-to-remain on

      Hi Philip, sorry to hear you have had such difficult experiences. The idea behind the annotated bank statements is that you print out your bank statements and on the paper copy you highlight every transaction over a certain amount explaining exactly what this purchase was. Good luck.

      Reply
  22. Lydia on

    Hi I made the fee waiver earlier than in-time, my visa expired on 19th of April, I made it on 08th March. Is it be ok or I have to do another one ?

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards

    Reply

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