In line with the government’s aims to reduce immigration and to balance its books, the government has once again resorted to charging immigrants an increasing amount. In a speech on the 13th of July 2023, the Prime Minister announced that the government is looking to increase both the Immigration application fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
Visa Fee Increases
Work and visa fees will increase by 15%, whereas other visa fees, e.g., family visas, will increase by 20%. For example, a partner or spouse currently applying for a Spouse Visa to join a British national would currently pay £1,538. Under the new rules, this will increase by £308 to £1,845. This is only the application fee, and the applicant will also need to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is also increasing.
Immigration Health Surcharge Increase
This will mean that someone applying from abroad would currently pay £1,872 (£645 x 3 years). They will now be expected to pay £3,105. Combined with the increased application fee, the total cost of a Spouse Visa from abroad will be £4,950 instead of £3,420.
Why are the fees increasing?
The government has said that the fees are increasing to raise funds to support their public spending. The IHS increase is designed to fund the pay increases for doctors that were announced recently. The government has also stated that the fee increase aligns with the current high inflation rate.
What can you do?
If your visa is about to run out or you are eligible to apply for a visa before these charges come in you would be best advised to apply for the visa ASAP and save yourself a small fortune. Unfortunately, the earliest you can apply for most visa extensions, if you are already in the UK, is 28 days before your current visa expires or you qualify.
Example: James came to the UK with a spouse visa in August 2018; this was extended in 2021, at which time they had to wait a few months for the visa to be processed. His current visa is valid until 2024, but he will qualify for apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as soon as he completes 60 months with a spouse visa in the UK. James can thus apply for ILR in August 2023 and pay the current fees before the changes come into effect.
Although the government has provided reasons for the fee increases, it is notable that the current cost of living crisis affects everyone, including migrants, who will now be further financially squeezed if they wish to stay in the UK. Many of the NHS workforce are migrants and may now look elsewhere, as the costs of visas offset the benefits of moving to the UK.
Another possible side effect is that migrants become undocumented as they cannot afford a further application but don’t wish to return to their home country. Many families will risk becoming destitute, in which case they are eligible to apply for a fee waiver for the application fee. This may mean that the government covers some of the fees.
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Cross Border Legal Solicitors Ltd is a UK Solicitor law firm regulated by under the Solicitor Regulations Authority. It is Headed by Mr Tito Mbariti, a UK Immigration and Human Rights Solicitor practising lawyer and member of the Law Society of England and Wales.