The UK government has recently unveiled plans to increase immigration visa fees in autumn 2023.
This proposal has stirred up debate and has raised concerns among both immigrants and citizens alike. The decision to raise immigration fees is supposedly driven by the need to manage the influx of migrants and ensure that the immigration system remains sustainable.
However, critics argue that this move will have detrimental effects on the economy, businesses, and individuals. In this article, we will delve into the details of the proposed increase in UK immigration visa fees and analyse its potential implications.
For most UK work related visa application, Government fees constitute the majority of the total costs, usually these fees will exceed professional legal fees.
Government fees include:
● The visa application fee
● The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
● The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) fee, and the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC)
● Other optional fees such as priority services fees to expedite a visa application.
Current FeesHome Office
- Assign (CoS) £199
- Immigration skills charge £364*5 = £1,820
- Skilled Worker visa fee £1,423
- Immigration Health Surcharge £624 *5 = £3,120
- Optional Priority Service £500 - 5 working days
Expected FeesHome Office
- Assign (CoS) £238.80
- Immigration skills charge £436.80*5 = £2184
- Skilled Worker visa fee £1,707.60
- Immigration Health Surcharge £1,035*5 = £5,175
- Optional Priority Service £600 - 5 working days
Why are Home Office Prices Increasing?
First and foremost, it is essential to highlight the main objectives behind this proposal. The government aims to establish a fair and sustainable immigration system that meets the dual goals of controlling migration while attracting talented individuals to contribute to the UK’s social and economic growth.
By increasing the visa fees, the government hopes to curb the number of low-skilled migrants, minimise the burden on public services, and ensure that immigrants make a meaningful contribution to society.
In it’s response to the ongoing petition to the parliament requesting to halt any further increases in visa fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge, the Government stated: ”The contribution migrants make is recognised, but the Government believes those that use health and immigration services should help fund the cost of delivering them. Increases will be progressed.”
Response to increased fees
However, there are several reasons why this decision has drawn criticism from various quarters. One of the primary concerns is the potential negative impact on businesses. Small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, heavily rely on migrant workers to fulfil labor shortages and maintain a competitive edge. The increase in visa fees could deter businesses from hiring foreign workers, leading to labor shortages and hindering economic growth. Moreover, certain sectors, such as healthcare and hospitality, heavily depend on migrant workers to provide essential services.
The proposed hike in immigration fees could exacerbate staffing challenges in these industries, potentially compromising the quality of services provided. The Financial Times quoted that John Dickie, chief executive of lobby group Business LDN, wrote to the prime minister asking to reassess the proposed measure and consider impact on businesses and the economy.
The British Academy has also responded to the government’s plans to raise visa fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The Academy believes that visa fees should be substantially reduced to a level similar to other countries such as the USA and Germany, and that the Immigration Health Surcharge should be removed.
How can Increased immigration fees Impact the UK Market?
Another major concern is the impact on the individuals seeking to migrate to the UK. Higher visa fees could make it financially unattainable for many individuals who wish to study, work, or reunite with family in the UK. This could hinder talented and skilled individuals from choosing the UK as their preferred destination, leading to a brain drain and a loss of potential economic growth.
Furthermore, it is crucial to consider the potential repercussions on the UK’s reputation as an attractive destination for international students. The proposed increase in visa fees could discourage foreign students from pursuing higher education in the UK, impacting the diversity and vibrancy of university campuses. This decline in international student enrolment could have severe financial consequences for universities, which heavily rely on the tuition fees paid by international students.
The proposed increase in UK immigration visa fees also raises questions about the fairness and accessibility of the immigration system. Critics argue that this move disproportionately affects individuals from low-income backgrounds, as they may not have the financial means to afford the higher fees. This could lead to a system that favours the wealthy and limits opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to improve their lives through migration.
The proposed increase in UK immigration visa fees in Autumn 2023 has sparked a heated debate. While the government aims to create a fair and sustainable immigration system, there are legitimate concerns about the potential negative impact on businesses, individuals, and the UK’s reputation as an international hub for education and talent. It is essential for policymakers to carefully consider these concerns to ensure that the UK remains an inclusive and welcoming country for immigrants while achieving its migration control objectives.