UK visa renewals to avoid delays
Sharp rises in immigration fees almost double the price of bringing in elderly parents and introduce a charge for each child
Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Wednesday 20 January 2010 16.29 GMT
International bankers and footballers who want to extend their stay in Britain are to be offered a 15,000 premium visa renewal service as part of a massive increase in immigration fees announced by the Home Office.
Ministers are also almost doubling the fees for migrants who apply to bring elderly parents from abroad to live with them to more than 1,900 and are to introduce a separate 10% charge for every child.
The immigration minister, Phil Woolas, justified the sharp increase in immigration and nationality fees to be introduced in April, saying it was only fair that those who benefited from using the immigration system should help fund it.
The 15,000 “premium service” available for the super-rich will enable them to avoid the repeated delays and humiliations that have become routine for UK visa and nationality applicants.
The UK Border Agency is offering to visit highly skilled migrants at their office or home and to sort out their immigration papers, including taking a new “biometric” photograph and fingerprints and, crucially, providing an on-the-spot decision.
The Home Office admits that the premium 15,000 price tag is far in excess of the 1,982 cost of providing the “mobile biometric enrolment and case-working” service. Fifty appointments will be made available in the first 12 months from this April as part of a pilot scheme to test the revenue-raising potential.
Meanwhile, the basic cost of a visa for migrants applying to settle in the UK will increase from 585 to 644. For those already in Britain, the cost of applying for indefinite leave to remain will rise from 820 to 840, and for applying to become a British citizen will increase from 640 to 655.
But this is accompanied by sharp increases in fees for those who apply for a settlement visa for a dependant relative usually an elderly parent to come to Britain from 585 to 1,680. Fees for an application for indefinite leave to remain for a dependant relative already in Britain will rise to 1,930 for personal callers to the passport office.
A 10% charge on all immigration and nationality fees is also to be introduced for each child of a migrant who is already in Britain who wants to extend their family's stay. A Home Office spokesman said this was to reflect the fact that each individual “brings a processing cost to us”. He added that the rise to nearly 2,000 to bring an elderly dependant relative to Britain reflected the greater use of health and social services made by older people.
Woolas said the fees were set above the cost of providing the service so that revenue could be generated to pay the costs of the new points-based immigration system and introduction of identity cards for foreign nationals. For some categories the fee includes a 50 contribution to the new migration impacts fund.
The increase in fees for some categories of migrant comes after a year in which thousands of people, particularly in Pakistan, have been hit by delays in visa applications to Britain.
A Pakistani rock star, Mekaal Hasan, was forced to cancel a business trip because of the delays. He said the visa fee was non-refundable if the application was turned down and already ridiculously priced.