Immigration professionals and others who work in the field of immigration or has been in the UK as a migrant in recent years, cannot have failed to notice the upward trajectory of fees seemingly unrelated to earnings or incomes. The cost of immigration applications has a real impact on the migrants the UK attracts and also migrants that are left to slide into the ‘hostile environment’ for their inability to pay the UK immigration fees.
How does this effect Immigration Law Clients?
I use the example of persons unlawfully in the UK who have a right to remain in the UK due to their private or family life here. Prior to 2012 it was not always necessary to make a formal application to the Home Office, it may be possible to make an application under article 8 ECHR in the form of legal representations to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if successful these legal representations could result in a grant of leave for the applicant. Once granted leave, in pre-2012 this would likely have been for three years, the applicant would be required to make a formal application in order to extend that leave at the end of the three-year period. Those applications cost around £500.
Fast forward post the 2012 amendments and is much less likely that legal representations sent to the Home Office could possibly result in a grant of leave. A formal application would have to be made and with that a formal application of fee.
Immigration lawyers have been concerned with charges since at least 2015 On 6 April 2015 under powers contained in the Immigration Act 2014 the immigration health surcharge was introduced. This had a dramatic effect on the cost to the applicant of applying for leave to enter or remain. The cost was initially introduced at £150 per year of the Visa to be granted for students and £200 per year of the Visa to be granted for all other applicants. This meant that an applicant applying 30 months of leave to remain would be required to pay the immigration health surcharge of £500 additional to the Home Office fee. Move forward again to 2019 and this immigration health surcharge has doubled, meaning that person applying country for leave to remain for 30 months will now pay the application fee, plus £1000 immigration health surcharge.
Sticking with the example of the private or family life route, that immigration application fee is now £1033. There is also premium route available. This allows you to attend an appointment and have an application decided on the day, the fee for this is now £800. So an application that prior to the 2012 changes would have cost in the region of £500 would now cost an applicant £2033 and £2833 if they wish to have it decided quickly and therefore retain their passport. Quite the increase!
A large profit is being made on UK Visa Applications – Solicitors say Another point of interest in considering the cost of immigration applications is the cost to the Home Office of processing these applications. The Home Office publish both the fee and the cost to them for processing that type of application. The example above of the applicant applying for leave to remain on the basis of their family or private life costs the applicant £1033 to apply, but costs the Home Office only £142 to process. An indefinite leave to remain application costs the applicant £2389 but the Home Office only £243 to process.
The fees for immigration applications usually go up in April of each year to correspond with the tax year. In April 2019 there was very little in terms of fee changes, the Secretary of State for the Home Department perhaps having felt the heat from applicants and representatives in respect of their previous obscenely large fee increases. Long may the fee freeze continue!
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