Fee waivers: Home Office defeated again

Alasdair Mackenzie has successfully acted for three people challenging the Home Office’s practice of charging large fees for visa applications.  Each of the three applied for entry clearance to travel to the UK on human rights grounds.  Two are men seeking to join a British partner and child here and the third is a victim of transnational marriage abandonment seeking to return to the UK.  Each was unable to make their application at all because they could not afford the fee, which was then over £2,500 (including the associated immigration health surcharge).

In response to the challenge, the Home Office has agreed to withdraw its policy on fee waivers for visa applications, on the grounds that the very high threshold set out in it is unlawful.  It has agreed to re-issue the policy so as to make clear that the correct criterion for being granted a fee waiver is affordability: whether the applicant can afford to pay the fee.  It has also withdrawn the individual decisions in each case and agreed to reconsider them.

This is a significant advance for people applying to come to the UK on human rights grounds – in particular to join family members in this country – who are unable to afford fees which have now increased to over £3,000 each.  It follows last year’s successful challenge to fees for people applying from within the UK, in which Alasdair also acted. 

For more details of the case, the background and its implications please see here.

Alasdair was instructed by Enny Choudhury of JCWI in two of the cases and by Nath Gbikpi in the third case.