Charging for immigration and nationality services 2010 – 2011

20 January 2010

The Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, Phil Woolas has laid regulations in Parliament for the fees for immigration and nationality services that are set at levels above the normal administrative costs of the service.

The fees are published today alongside these regulations. The Minister’s proposals for the fees that are set below cost will be published in February 2010.

The Government reviews the fees on a regular basis and makes appropriate changes as necessary. The strategic approach to charging sets certain fees above cost, by balancing a number of complex factors including the cost of processing applications, the importance of attracting certain groups of migrants to the UK and the value of a successful application to the migrant.

Details of the proposed fees are set out in a written ministerial statement by Phil Woolas, which you can download from here

The wealthy offered fast-track UK visa option

January 21 2010

The UK visa service, in an unending quest to cash-in on the global demand for British visas has today announced a new ‘home visit’ visa service aimed at the wealthy at an incredible cost of per application £15,000!

As part of the Home Office’s new UK visa fee increases, wealthy immigrants living in the UK on highly skilled work visas are being offered the chance to pay £15,000 to extend their UK visas without having to wait in line.

This ‘premium’ service is being marketed to super-rich highly skilled migrants such as international football players working in the UK and will allow them to avoid delays and other inconveniences.

The service will include the offer for UK Border Agency staff to visit the UK visa holders to sort their visa applications and to take the biometric information. Previously, these applicants would have to have their biometric information taken at collection centres or post offices.

The scheme will be launched as a pilot to begin with, with 50 appointments being made available from April 2010 for the following 12 months. The UK Border Agency admits that the actual price of providing the “mobile biometric and case working” service is just £1,982. So why are they charging people seven and a half times the cost of providing this service? Send your questions on a postcard to the Home Office – but please don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer, chances are you will never get one!

The pilot is intended to help the UK immigration department to work out whether the activity is working as a means of raising revenue for the department.

UK visa fees trebled for relatives of immigrants

January 21 2010

The UK visa application fees for the elderly relatives of people from abroad who are now living in the UK are to be trebled, it has been announced.

The move is intended to help pay for the social and health services needed to cope with the increasing number of older relatives moving to the UK to live with their immigrant families.
The fee for applying for a UK visa for elderly relatives living outside the UK will be increased to £1,680 from £585.

UK immigration estimates that around 5,000 elderly relatives move to the UK through these means each year.

Some move to the UK through applying for a visa when they are still living outside the UK; others come to visit relatives in the UK and remain here as they are too infirm to look after themselves.

The huge hike in fees has attracted some criticism, but UK immigration minister Phil Woolas has defended the increases. He said, “I believe that it is fair that those who benefit from using our immigration system should help fund it.”

He continued, “the fees help fund the 25,000 staff who work in local communities, at the border and in 135 countries around the world. They represent good value for money and are comparative to similar Western countries.”