MPs urge Home Secretary to introduce £2,885 fee waiver for bereaved foreign spouses before election

Home Secretary James Cleverly (PA Wire)
Home Secretary James Cleverly (PA Wire)

MPs are urging the Home Secretary before the general election to waive a “devastating” £2,885 fee that bereaved foreign spouses would have to pay in order to stay living in the UK.

Stephen Timms and Caroline Lucas are among MPs who wrote to James Cleverly on Tuesday urging him to push through a fee waiver this week for indefinite leave to remain applications made by foreigners, living in the UK on a spouse visa, whose British spouses have died.

Indefinite leave to remain is how foreign nationals settle in the UK. It gives them the right to live, work and study and can be used to apply for British citizenship.

Primarily grieving women are priced out of the £2,885.50 application fee despite qualifying for the bereaved partner concession (BPC), the letter said.

In some cases, their British husbands have died from murder, cardiac arrest, or just days after their child has been born. Many grieving foreign spouses have British children.

One widow had to max out her credit card to pay for the indefinite leave to remain application, but was unable to pay the family’s mortgage and faced losing her home just months after losing her husband, the Refugee and Migrant Forum for Essex and London (RAMFEL) said.

In December the High Court granted permission in a judicial review challenging the failure of the government to consider fee waiver applications for people applying for indefinite leave to remain under the BPC.

In February, the Government conceded the case and confirmed that the Minister of State for Legal Migration and the Border and the Home Secretary had agreed to introduce a fee waiver based on destitution for the BPC.

In a letter to Mr Cleverly, MPs said: “The Government confirmed that the necessary regulation and policy changes would be made by 11 July.

“However, with parliament now due to dissolve on 30 May, we are concerned the relevant regulations will not be amended ahead of this.

“Though this delay may be seem minor, for the women affected by this, they will be devastating.

“In view of the relatively minor changes needed to amend the relevant regulations and introduce a fee waiver for the BPC, we are asking for this to be prioritised in the remaining days of this parliament and hope you will consider this request favourably.”

A delay in introducing the fee waiver has been “extremely stressful” for one unnamed widow, the letter said, adding that her and her children’s mental health have struggled.

“The period since February 2024, when the government agreed to concede the case, has been particularly traumatic as she understandably felt the end was in sight but now faces a further period of uncertainty in immigration limbo unsure of when or if she will be granted the ILR to which she is entitled,” it said.

The Home Office has been approached for comment.