Top 5 Tips to Save Money When Making Immigration Applications From Abroad

Image by Freepik
Image by Freepik

Immigration applications are extremely expensive, with the Government making regular increases to application fees and the immigration health surcharge (IHS), sadly with little consideration for how this impacts migrants and their families.

For example, the application fees for a typical spouse visa from abroad, as of today is £4433.50! This comprises of £1846 for the application fee and £2587.50 for the IHS.

IHRC Legal would like to share 5 little known tips that could help you save some money towards the application process.


  1. Use Payment Cards that do not charge Foreign Transaction Fees:


Opt for payment cards that waive non-sterling transaction fees when paying for application fees. This is because when submitting applications from abroad, the application fees are charged are in the local currency or in US dollars.

Foreign Transaction fees for many debit and credit cards are usually around 2.99%. This means in our earlier example, you could be paying an extra £132.56 in bank fees for a spouse visa!

There are many banks in the UK that do not charge this fee, such as Starling, Monzo and First Direct, as well as many credit card provider who do the same.


  1. Opt for B1 Exam Over A1:


If you are confident in your English language skills or have time to study or refresh your English language skills consider taking the B1 CEFR exam, instead of the A1 CEFR, which is minimum language requirement.

Normally, applicants do an A1 CEFR exam for their entry clearance, A2 for their application for further leave to remain and a B1 for their indefinite leave to remain application (which can subsequently be used for their nationality application). Each exam currently costs around £150.

Doing the B1 CEFR exam at first stage eliminates the need for further language exams when applying for an extension, settlement and British nationality, saving you both time and money.


  1. IHS Refunds:


After entering the UK, if you secure a job in the health and care sector, you could be eligible to claim a refund of your Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). You’ll need to be in the role for 6 months and work at least 16 hours a week. This can save you huge sums, and potentially up to the entire amount you paid for the IHS!

IHRC Legal have a handy guide on how to apply for a refund.


  1. Avoid paying for unnecessary services at the Visa Application Centre (VAC)


Pay attention when navigating and booking your biometric appointment at the VAC, otherwise you may be hit with hidden fees. This process is managed by VFS Global or TLS Contact, and their websites are not always entirely clear!

  • Check that the VAC you wish to attend does not attract an additional fee. Certain VACs only offer premium appointments or paid appointments.
  • Look of for free appointments at your preferred VAC, often paid premium appointments are given greater prominence, or you may have to scroll through later dates for free appointments, as they can get booked up quickly at busy VACs.
  • Consider scanning and uploading your own documents instead of paying a fee for this service. You can scan and upload from the comfort of your home, and not have to take all your documents to the appointment.


  1. Consider Legal Consultation or Document Checking Services:


If your application is unsuccessful, the application fee is non-refundable. It is therefore important that you have accurate information about the law before applying.

If you can’t afford a lawyer to prepare your application, consider seeking an initial consultation or document checking services. These services can help ensure that your application meets the rules and is properly prepared, providing peace of mind at a fraction of the cost.

IHRC Legal offer a fixed fee consultation service, which can help you determine whether you are eligible and how likely you are to succeed with an application. If you decide that you do not wish to prepare the application yourself and want to instruct us, the consultation fee is deducted from the cost of the application service.

IHRC Legal also offers a Application Checking Service, with experienced solicitors who can ensure that your application and supporting documents are all in order. This cost-effective option offers expert guidance, increasing the likelihood of success while providing peace of mind. With IHRC Legal’s assistance, applicants receive professional assistance at a fraction of the cost of full legal representation, making immigration support accessible to a broader range of individuals.


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