Visa and nationality fees to rise by at least 20 percent
The United Kingdom announced plans for stiff increases in the immigration health surcharge and immigration fees as it seeks to fund its soaring public sector wage bill and discourage migrants. It also announced the abolition of some fees.
The immigration health surcharge will rise to £1,035 per year from £624 to help “fund the pay rise for doctors” announced this month, the immigration minister said July 13.
This will be paid by workers entering the U.K. for a period of six months or more and the family members of migrants and British citizens. The discounted rate for students, children and youth mobility visa holders will rise to £776 per year from £470.
Immigration and nationality fees will be increased as well. The cost of work and visit visas will rise by 15%. Payments for student visas, certificates of sponsorship, settlement, citizenship, entry clearance and leave to remain applications will increase by “at least 20%.”
To illustrate, the cost to apply to settle in the U.K. or `indefinite leave to remain’ will increase to at least £2,867 per person. For a family of four that would add up to £11,467. Similarly, the price of a settlement visa will rise to £1,828 per person.
The U.K. government is seeking to raise about £1 billion from an increase in visa fees and the health levy after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government approved recommendations this month to boost wages of teachers, doctors and police by between five and seven percent. He ruled out an increase in taxes to fund the pay rises. Net migration in the U.K. hit a record 606,000 in 2022, according to figures released in May, piling pressure on the government, which has pledged to cut dependency on foreign labour.
The immigration minister also announced a number of simplifications. The £19.20 fee for biometric enrolment will be abolished. Fees will no longer be charged for amending details on physical documents such as name, sex marker, nationality and photograph. Fees will also be abolished for like-for-like replacement of a biometric residence permit where the document has expired.
The cost of student and priority service applications outside and inside the U.K. will be equalised. It is currently cheaper to apply from within the U.K. for several visa types.
No announcement was made as to the when these changes will come into effect.
The immigration health surcharge is essentially mandatory state health insurance, which is imposed because of the U.K.’s free-at-the-point-of-delivery system. Under the U.K. system, the same charge is levied on all migrants, irrespective of their age or health.
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