As of the 6th April 2022 the fee list for immigration and nationality applications shows that most visas and visa extensions have increased in cost by around £15. While this does not represent a significant increase, and indeed it is worth noting that fees had already been frozen since 2020 because of the pandemic, it is important to remember the massive increase in the cost of immigration and nationality applications in the years prior to the pandemic and the exorbitant price tag when compared to people’s incomes and what it costs the government to process applications.
The Immigration Health Surcharge (NHS Surcharge) which is a separate tax on visas, has risen sharply from £200 a year in 2018 to £624 a year in October 2020. This is an increase of 312% in just 2 years. If we take into account that most visas have a duration of two and a half years, a person applying for a visa in 2018 paid £500 for the NHS surcharge when they now pay £1560.
The cost of applications remains exorbitant and not proportional to what it is estimated to cost the government to process an application. To give an example, a migrant applying for indefinite residence has to pay £2,404 in fees when the estimated cost to the Home Office of processing such an application is only £491.
The most outrageous thing of all might be seen when we analyse what it costs a family to extend a visa. Imagine the very common case of a family of 4 whose residence permit is about to expire. This family has to pay £6,240 NHS surcharge plus £4,192 Home Office fees. This gives a total of £10,432 that the family will need to pay to extend their visa for another two and a half years. How much does the government expect the parents to earn in order to save this amount every two and a half years? What is the real purpose of setting the fees so high: that migrants cannot afford to pay for visas and cannot come to the UK or have to return home?
Migrants are being squeezed by these fees and many of them simply cannot afford to pay for them. For some people, there is an option to apply for a fee waiver. The government has been forced by the court to accept that for certain visas (10 year route) those who do not have the money to pay for the visa should not have to do so. My suggestion is that lack of money should not be an impediment for migrants to extend their visas, so apply for a fee waiver if you are eligible to do so.
Manuel Padilla Behar is a solicitor specialising in immigration law and is the owner of MPB Solicitors. You can contact him here: email@example.com
First published in Spanish in Express News