In a welcome move, the Home Office has changed its rules to allow first visa applicants to come to the UK to apply for free. This means families are no longer barred from joining their loved ones in the UK simply because they cannot pay the registration fee.
Previously, it was almost impossible to get a fee waiver when applying for a visa to the UK. This leaves many people in a hopeless situation, unable to join their relatives in the UK because they cannot pay the application fee and unable to apply for an exemption because they are outside the UK.
The new regulations, introduced following intervention by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), are a significant step forward in making it more accessible for UK families.
How to apply for a fee waiver
You can apply online, using this form click HERE. It is free to apply. If you have other family members applying with you, you will need to include their details on the same form.
After you submit the online application, you have 28 working days to provide documents to support your application (see below).
If you are granted a fee waiver, you will be given a code. You’ll need to enter this code when you make your application for leave to enter. To apply for a fee waiver, you will need to provide evidence that you cannot afford to pay the application fee. This could include:
Letters from local authorities or family members showing you get financial support
Evidence to show you get public funds
Evidence of your household earnings
Evidence of your household expenses
A positive step forward
The new fee exemption rules are a positive step towards making the UK more family-friendly. They will allow people to reunite with loved ones without having to worry about the financial burden of the visa process.
If you are having difficulty applying for a UK visa, you should schedule a consultation with Tulia for advice and support.
What to do if you can’t afford to apply for your first UK visa
Home Office application fees are expensive and can be a barrier for people who want to come to the UK to join their loved ones. However, there is something called a fee waiver, which allows you to apply for a visa without paying the application fee if you can prove that you cannot afford it.
Who can apply for a fee waiver?
You can apply for a fee waiver if you are applying for your first visa to come to the UK to join a:
Person with indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
Partner or child of a UK citizen member of the armed forces
Partner or child of someone who has been in the UK armed forces for 4 years
When will I get a response?
There is no set deadline for receiving a response to a toll-free request. However, you may have to wait at least a month.
What will happen if I get a fee waiver?
If you get a fee waiver, the Home Office will send you a code that allows you to apply for a visa without paying the application fee. You will then have 28 days to submit your visa application using that code.
What if my fee waiver is refused?
If your fee waiver application is refused, you can submit more evidence and prepare a stronger application that addresses the reasons for refusal. You can also seek legal advice about challenging the refusal through judicial review.
Tips for applying for a fee waiver
Be honest and accurate in your application.
Provide as much evidence as possible to support your claim.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Home Office for help.