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.”