When are Visa Application Fees increasing?
Following our previous article, which noted the upcoming Visa Application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge increases, we can now report that the government has broken with the tradition of annual increases and has announced a mid-financial year increase, with the new UK visa application fees coming into effect on the 4th of October, 2023.
Why are the fees increasing?
The Home Office has stated that the ‘increases to immigration and nationality fees will pay for vital services and allow more funding to be prioritised for public sector pay rises‘. According to the government, “income from fees charged plays a vital role in the Home Office’s ability to run a sustainable immigration and nationality system“.
Which visa application fees are increasing?
In July, the government announced a 15% increase in the cost of most work and visit visas and an increase of at least 20% in the fees of priority visas, study visas, and certificates of sponsorship (see our previous article here).
The changes include:
- Fees for all visit visas, for example, a 6-monthly visa fee will increase by £15
- The majority of fees for work and study visas, for example, a student visa fee will go up by £127
- Fees for indefinite leave to enter (ILE) and indefinite leave to remain (ILR) will rise by £481
- Convention travel documents and stateless person’s travel documents will go up by £7
- Health and Care visa fees will rise by £37 for three years and £72 for five years.
- Fees for certificates of sponsorship will increase by £40 and confirmation of acceptance for studies will rise by £4
- The in-country fee for the super-priority service is increasing by £200, and the out-of-country fees for the priority service will rise by £44, so that they now both cost £1,000
- Out-of-country settlement priority service will be reduced by £73; this will now cost the same (£500) as the priority service from within the UK.
- Applications to Register as a British Citizen will go up by £225 for an adult and £202 for a child, and the fee to Naturalise as a British Citizen will rise by £250
- The fee for the User Pays Visa Application service will increase by £21.50.
A complete list of the new visa application fees is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visa-regulations-revised-table/home-office-immigration-and-nationality-fees-4-october-2023
The changes mean that the cost of a Spouse visa from the UK is rising by £210 to £1,258, while the fee for applying for a Spouse Visa from outside the UK will increase by £308 to £1846; this is a considerable amount, especially when coupled with the proposed increase of IHS fees.
Is it possible to apply early to beat the increases?
If your visa is about to run out or you are eligible to apply for a visa before the new changes 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 for the visa.
Note: You can also apply for a visa from abroad up to three months before your intended travel date to the UK.
Bottom line: will this work out?
The government insists that careful consideration has been given when setting fees to help reduce the funding contribution from British taxpayers whilst continuing to provide a service that remains attractive to those wishing to work in the UK and support broader prosperity for all. However, as we stated in our previous article, the UK does risk being seen as a costly country for skilled worker immigrants and may be less attractive to some migrants that the country needs, such as Doctors and Nurses.
Whereas we understand the government needs to raise funds and that high inflation has pushed costs high, doubling IHS fees and above inflation visa fee rises mid-financial year may be counterproductive, as it is likely to put a lot of migrants and their families at risk of destitution, increase the number of applications for Fee Waiver and result in more migrants going (or staying) underground, as applying for a UK visa will be beyond typical migrant affordability. The government should bear in mind the “Cost of living crisis” affects migrants too, and in many cases does so more, and that the UK doesn’t have a monopoly over difficult financial times.
As a UK immigration lawyer, we are still waiting for (or, more truthfully, dreading) the announcement of the start date for the proposed IHS fee increase, which will have a crippling financial effect on thousands of immigrant families. We hope there will be enough pushback in parliament to at least delay this new proposal from being passed into law; meanwhile, Sign Petitions and contact your local MP.
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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.