The British government has announced a proposed increase in visa fees, which will come into effect from Wednesday. Under the new changes, a visit visa for less than six months will cost an additional £15, and student visas will be £127 more expensive for travelers from around the world, including Indians.
Last month, the UK Home Office presented legislation in Parliament to implement these fee hikes. The changes mean that the cost of a visit visa for less than six months will rise to £115, and the fee for applying for a student visa from outside the UK will increase to £490, the same amount charged for in-country applications.
A spokesperson for the Home Office stated, “It is right and fair to increase visa application fees so we can fund vital public services and allow wider funding to contribute to public sector pay.”
This announcement follows British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s statement in July that fees and health surcharges paid by visa applicants towards the UK’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) would rise significantly to meet the country’s public sector wage increase.
“We are going to increase the charges that we have for migrants who are coming to this country when they apply for visas and indeed something called the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is the levy that they pay to access the NHS,” Sunak explained.
The Home Office has indicated a 15% increase in the cost of most work and visit visas, as well as an increase of at least 20% in the cost of priority visas, study visas, and certificates of sponsorship.
“Income from fees charged plays a vital role in the Home Office’s ability to run a sustainable immigration and nationality system. Careful consideration is given when setting fees to help reduce the funding contribution from British taxpayers, whilst continuing to provide a service that remains attractive to those wishing to work in the UK and support broader prosperity for all,” the Home Office stated.
The fee hike applies to various visa categories, including fees for up to six months, two, five, and ten-year visit visas, as well as the majority of fees for entry clearance and certain applications for leave to remain in the UK, such as work and study visas. The increase also applies to fees for indefinite leave to enter and remain, health and care visas, certificates of sponsorship, and confirmation of acceptance for studies, as well as applications to register and naturalize as a British Citizen.
Later in the year, an additional increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) to fund the NHS is scheduled to be implemented.
However, not everyone is pleased with the fee hikes. The UK’s Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) criticized the move, calling it “unfair, divisive, and dangerous” during a time of financial strain for many. The JCWI argues that high visa costs are already leaving families without enough money for essential items and forcing them to live month-to-month just to save for a visa.
As the proposed visa fee increases go into effect, many individuals and families will have to navigate the additional financial burden when planning to visit or study in the UK. The changes are part of the government’s efforts to secure funding for essential public services and meet the rising cost of public sector wages.
More detail via NDTV here… ( Image via NDTV )