The Government is currently consulting upon the current charging structure for immigration fees and visas required by individuals who want to visit, live and work in the UK. The consultation which is open until 3 December 2013, seeks views upon how the Government can ensure that those individuals who benefit directly from the immigration system and border control contribute appropriately to its running costs.
Is this however simply a consultation aiming to justify significant increases to visa application fees yet again, following the annual increases already imposed in April 2013?
- Should the number of fee categories be reduced, which could mean individuals pay more?
- As the same application can be charged differently, depending upon where the application is made in the world – should the fee levels be standardised to remove differences dependent upon where an application is made from?
- Should the fees greater reflect the benefits of a successful application, with larger fees for longer term residence compared to temporary stays?
- Should legislation allow fees to be altered with greater frequency than the current annual basis, to respond to emerging market opportunities or changing government priorities?
- A package of bundled premium services and products is proposed aimed at sponsors and individuals, but should this replace stand alone premium products (such as quick return of a passport)?
- If Border Force provide enhanced services, should individual travellers pay more for this? Should the fee be a single national rate or reflect the value to ports, airlines and passengers?
- Should UKBA charge organisations (e.g. English language test providers, those providing support to migrants applying in the UK etc) for the advice and support UKBA currently provides for free?
- Should an administrative cost be deducted from refunds when errors in applications mean they cannot be processed?
- The consultation also seeks to know how any of the proposals listed above will impact upon businesses.
From April 2013 we have already seen fee increases, including a considerable jump for dependants, aimed perhaps at discouraging individuals from including family members in their applications. The general tone of this consultation again seems to be leaning towards further fee increases. If you have any comments on the consultation questions, let us know and we can pass these on in a response.
The full consultation document can be found here. Clarkslegal frequently advise on a range of immigration issues and more information can be found on our website.
Anne Marie Burke
Paralegal, Seconded from Carillion Advice Services