The Home Office have announced increases to visa application fees of up to 25%.
From 06 April 2017 the application fee for Indefinite Leave to Remain has been increased from £1,875 to £2,297 per applicant. With processing times of around six months, many people will want to use a same-day premium service and this additional fee has been increased from £500 to £590.
The fees for these applications have been significantly increased every year since limits were introduced on the time people can remain in the UK with a Tier 2 General visa. It used to be the case that these visas could be extended for as long as an applicant wished to do so. The Home Office changed this to a maximum of 5 years and 14 days for most applicants, after which the applicant should either leave the UK or apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
With applicants therefore being forced to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain if they wish to remain in the UK the Home Office have regularly increased application fees far above the level of inflation and far beyond the internal cost of processing the applications, this being £434 per application in 2016 – a hefty profit.
To put this into context, a couple with a child who are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain will now pay up to £8,861 in application fees, compared to £7,125 prior to these changes. In 2012, when the family would have initially arrived, the fees for Indefinite Leave to Remain would have been £2,755 for the same family – an increase of £6,106 over the five-year period. This represents an increase of 221% over five years.
For the above example, the Home Office are charging £2,887 to assess a child’s passport and birth certificate and a further £2,887 to asess the partner’s passport, marriage certificate, Life in the UK test pass, English language test pass and some bills showing that they have been living together in a subsisting relationship.
The minimum salary for Tier 2 General during the qualifying period could have been as low as £20,800 initially and up to £30,000 per annum for an extension. With the cost of living at present the example family will have spent five years working and paying tax, without any right to public funds (benefits), only to find that they must leave if they cannot afford the huge fees being demanded for the Indefinite Leave to Remain applications.
Some observers have expressed significant concern and commented that this is nothing less than extortion, as applicant’s are forced to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) due to not being permitted to extend their visas and at the same time the application fees for ILR have been increased by huge amounts and possibly beyond the reach of the average worker’s salary.