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UK visa application fees continue to shoot up with latest hikes

New fees for visa applications in the UK came into effect earlier in the month (April 6).  With a 4% increase across a wide range of categories, needless to say, there are some unhappy people about.  The main gripe is that the 4% increase is way above the rate of inflation, raising concerns about the profits which the Home Office is making from visa application fees.

A naturalisation application has now risen to £1,330, with an application for indefinite leave to remain going up to £2,389. In some cases, applicants from specific countries will have to pay as much as 16% more.

One of the highest fees asked – £3,250 – is a UK visa application fee for a dependent relative, but this fee has actually been frozen by the Home Office, in contrast with other increases across the board.

The immigration health surcharge is expected to double this year, which will put as much as £400 onto the fee for limited leave visas, with students paying £300 more.

Above all concerns are the profit margins which the Home Office are now pocketing. The cost of processing naturalisation applications (£372) and ILR applications (£243) are widely known, making it clear just how big the cut is for the authorities. The Home Office can now even charge an ’email fee’ of over £5 for those contacting them regarding visa applications from overseas.

Such are the extent of the fees, that an applicant can, in theory, have their application refused on a technicality, and then need to pay another four-figure sum in order to process the second application.

The government has defended the fees, saying it needs to stay globally competitive and pointing to costs which are ultimately met by border control and the tax payer, so there seems to be no hope of a reversal in the skyrocketing of UK visa fees over the last few years. The government maintains that the visa application fees which are highest are justifiable due to the return on investment for successful applications. The Home Office told the Guardian that these steeper fees are those which offer “most significant benefits and entitlements for successful applicants”.

It all makes the necessity to submit error free applications all the more pertinent, giving applicants more reasons to employ professional legal help when the stakes are even higher.

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