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As we explained in our previous article (“Immigration Fee Waiver”, 24 December 2020), in-country visa applicants are able to apply for a fee waiver if they cannot afford to pay the visa application fees. It is however extremely difficult for out-of-country applicants applying for entry clearance to succeed in such an application, for which the requirements are far more stringent: they have to satisfy an “exceptional circumstances” test – eg natural disaster or civil war.
But some unsuccessful applicants for fee waivers for entry clearance applications sought to challenge the Home Office policy by way of Judicial Review proceedings and, apparently, the Home Office immediately retreated and said they would reconsider the policy and introduce a new one, with an “affordability” criterion. So this, we imagine, might bring the policy more into line with the in-country fee waiver policy.
It is often claimed that Judicial Review – whereby a decision by the Home Office/UK Visas & Immigration is assessed by a reviewing court/tribunal for arguable legal deficiency – is a clumsy remedy and inferior to an appeal process. But in some instances, as here, the mere issuing of a Judicial Review application is enough to produce the required result.
We will keep you updated about the new policy as soon as it is published and, in the meantime, we at GSN Immigration will be able to assist you if you want to apply for a fee waiver in-country.
OISC Level 3 Immigration Lawyer