UK Government Announces Huge Immigration Fee increases:
A Financial Burden for Migrants and their families.
In a recent update, the government announced huge immigration fee increases and the immigration health surcharge. However, some fees will be abolished. These changes will have far-reaching consequences for migrants and their families.
What is the rate of increase for immigration fees?
The immigration health surcharge, normally set at £624 per year, will surge to £1,035 for workers staying in the UK for six months or over. This also applies to family members of migrants and British citizens. Meanwhile, students, children, and youth mobility visa holders will face a discounted annual rate increase from £470 to £776. The government justifies this increase by stating that it will partly fund the previously announced pay rise for doctors.
Other immigration and nationality fees will also witness substantial rises. Work and visit visas will go up by 15%. Second, student visas, certificates of sponsorship, settlement, citizenship, entry clearance, and leave to remain applications will rise by at least 20%. For instance, a settlement application’s cost will soar to at least £2,885 per person. This means a family of four will have to pay over £11,500 in total. Adding in the immigration health surcharge costs of around £15,000 and visa fees of approximately £6,200, the total expenses will easily surpass £33,000. So this is naturally a significant financial burden compared to co-workers and fellow residents.
How does this affect foreign partners of British Citizens?
Additionally, for foreign partners of British citizens on the ten-year route to settlement, the situation is equally challenging. Originally budgeting for £7,620 in immigration fees to reach settlement, they now have to find £10,575.
Are there any benefits under the new proposal?
While some simplifications have been announced, like abolishing the £19.20 fee for biometric enrolment and the £161 charge for transfer of conditions, the overall impact remains challenging for migrants. It is also unclear whether increasing immigration fees to fund pay rises for public sector workers is legally permissible.
The immigration health surcharge
Furthermore, soaring immigration health surcharge is akin to mandatory state health insurance, justified by the UK’s free-at-the-point-of-delivery system. At £1,035 per person, this charge raises concerns about affordability for migrants.
Additionally, charging family members high entry fees seems unfair and places an undue burden on those falling in love with foreigners. This can have profound effects, particularly on any children involved. However, charging students and workers seems more acceptable, as they can make informed choices and weigh the cost against the benefits.
One significant issue is the unpredictability of fee increases after migrants arrive in the country. These sudden hikes make it challenging for migrant families to budget for their future. While it may not force many to leave the country, it will undoubtedly make their lives harder and potentially lead some into illegality. For instance, if a migrant cannot afford a settlement visa after residing for five years due to increased fees, their family’s stability may be compromised, and they may face challenging decisions.
Unfortunately, these fee increases offer the government an easy financial and political solution, but they impose a heavy financial burden on migrants and their families. Employers are already implementing ‘claw-back’ clauses for migrant workers, demanding repayment of visa and health surcharge costs if the employee leaves. While some public sector employers pay these fees, it ultimately puts extra strain on both employees and employers, leaving them trapped and vulnerable to exploitation.
Comparison of UK Fees charged compared to the EU and US
Furthermore, fees charged in the UK are already much higher than in comparable European countries and the United States. The lack of an exhaustive list regarding immigration health surcharge levies makes it difficult to contest its legality. As a result, migrants, employers, universities, and settled family members will undoubtedly express their discontent and frustration with these increases.
In conclusion, the recent immigration fee hikes present serious financial challenges for migrants and their families. The burden of increased costs will impact their lives significantly, making it harder to plan for the future and potentially forcing some into difficult situations. While the government may see these changes as a cost-effective measure, the consequences for those affected are undeniably immense.
For more information contact Leena Chouhan on 02074275972