Visa fees to increase significantly as early as this week
18 July 2023
Last Thursday (13 July), the UK Government announced that it intended to significantly increase visa fees and associated application costs to help fund the increase in public sector pay. These increases will apply to all future visa applications submitted after the official date of increase, regardless of whether the migrant is already in the UK or an existing UK visa holder.
Work visa fees (such as those for Skilled Worker and Global Business Mobility visas) are expected to increase by 15%, as will the fees for visit visas. Certificate of Sponsorship fees, which are usually a part of work visa applications and have been held at £199 for a number of years, will increase by at least 20%. The vast majority of all other UK visa fees will also increase by at least 20% (this includes both entry clearance (applications submitted from outside of the UK) and extension applications, settlement, and citizenship applications submitted from within the UK). The new schedule of application fees providing specific fees for each application type is yet to be published.
The Government is further equalising priority processing fees across the board, meaning that these additional (optional) services will cost the same irrespective of whether the application is submitted in the UK or overseas. It is expected that they will be raised to remove the current discount that overseas applicants benefit from.
Immigration Health Surcharge
The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is also going to increase – from £624 to £1,035 per year of the visa duration for adults, and from £470 to £776 for children under 18, students and Youth Mobility Scheme visa holders. This is a significant increase of 66%. The IHS was introduced in 2015 to contribute to the cost of migrants with temporary visas using the National Health Service (NHS). The IHS is a mandatory fee payable up front at the time of the visa application.
These changes will have a significant effect on the overall cost of a UK visa application.
As an example, a three-year Skilled Worker visa application for single applicant is circa £6,000 and going forward will be almost £8,000 (see example below). A family of four currently attracts government fees of just over £12,500. Once the increase goes live this will rise to just under £17,500.
|Application Element||Current rate for a single worker||Expected new rate for single worker|
|Visa application fee||£719||£863|
|Certificate of Sponsorship||£199||£234|
|Immigration Skills Charge||£3,000||£3,000|
|Immigration Health Surcharge||£1,872 (rate of £624 per year of visa duration)||£3,105|
|Priority Service (optional)||£500||£500|
It has not been announced when these changes will come into effect yet, but it can be assumed that they will be introduced sooner rather than later. Typically changes would come into effect 21 days following the statutory instrument being laid before parliament, however there are recent examples of the Home Office circumventing parliamentary precedent to bring changes into force sooner, and they could be implemented as soon as this week.
It is therefore advisable that any visa applications being considered are started and submitted as soon as possible.
Alongside the increase in visa charges, there are some small but welcome reductions in some fees. The £19.20 biometric enrolment fee will be abolished, as will the cost for a Transfer of Condition application (usually submitted to transfer immigration permission from an expiring, lost or stolen passport to a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)), which is currently £161.00. Fees will also no longer be charged if a migrant needs to amend their current BRP details, such as name, nationality or appearance, or if their BRP is expiring and they need to apply for a new one.
We’re here to help
In particular, if you would like assistance with or discuss:
- clawback arrangements in respect of immigration fees;
- employment contract provisions for international workers; or
- what elements of the immigration fees are chargeable to employees and which have to be absorbed by you as the employer.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at July 2023.