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Travellers blast UK visa costs and delays

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Overseas travellers have blasted a UK visa system that charges them more than £500 to apply and a further £2.74 to send a follow-up email. Applicants told of their frustration at being asked to pay £531 without an option to check visa appointment availability – meaning that they had no guarantee that they could obtain a visa in line with their planned trips to the UK.


Foreign travellers also complained about having to pay premium fees for a check on the status of their UK visa applications – including a charge to send immigration officials an email and pay 69p per minute to call a helpline.

Ms Gold, a lawyer living in Dubai, spoke about her plans to visit the UK for two weeks with her nanny and her two young children in the summer, but had to delay her plans. She said: “We had a domestic worker visa rejected recently and had a torrid time with the UK visa process.”


UK government makes it difficult

Ms Gold added: “We have two boys under the age of two and my mum is on her own in the UK, so I really needed that support to make a trip to see her, but the UK government make it so difficult. I ended up paying for a fast track service because I was told it could take up to a month to process, which is time I didn’t have to waste.”

Ms Gold reportedly paid nearly £1,000 for the fast-track visa, including additional administration fees charged by VFS Global – an outsourcing firm used by the UK government to manage parts of the UK immigration system.

Despite paying almost £1,000, Ms Gold said: “The whole process is incredibly long-winded. I did everything they asked for and had to produce so much evidence [about our nanny’s work status in the UAE], but the response I got was they were not satisfied I met the terms for bringing a domestic worker into the UK.”

“I wanted to add more documentation to the application, but I couldn’t do that. They don’t explain why it was rejected. I was told I would have to reapply again and pay all the charges again. It just feels like a money-making scheme,” Ms Gold added.


£2.74 email charge baffling

Another traveller, who asked to remain anonymous, said they were baffled by the £2.74 fee to send an email just to check the status of their domestic worker visa application.

She said it was ‘hard having to accept paying the full visa fee without being able to check appointment availability times’, which is non-refundable once an appointment is confirmed. 

The anonymous traveller said: “I was made to wait several weeks before an appointment was allocated. I’m British and I’m trying to take my nanny to the UK with me, which I’ve done before, so I’m familiar with the process.”

“Currently, there is a backlog and I’ve not experienced a wait like this before. I was told it’s between six weeks and three months. You have to commit to such a large payment, more than $600, before even being able to see when the next appointment is — and even then you are not guaranteed the visa,” the woman added.

She went on to say that one of her friends was going through the exact same process through the system in France and that she was able to see appointment slots before even paying for the application.


Warning of longer waiting times

Foreign travellers to the UK are being warned to expect longer wait times for standard visit visas as the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) department at the Home Office prioritises applications made under Ukraine schemes.

Meanwhile, those applying for transit, study, work and family visas may also experience longer waiting times.

Standard visitor visa applications are currently taking approximately six weeks, but the UKVI website states that it is ‘working hard to process applications to get back to its 3-week service standard’.

A UKVI statement to The National said: “The £2.74 charge per email is a one-time payment for the initial email and subsequent follow-up emails to and from the contact centre relating to the same inquiry.”

“The UK government believes it is right that those who use and benefit directly from the UK immigration system make an appropriate contribution towards meeting the costs. The service charge for email and telephone correspondence has been long-standing practice. This is complemented by in-house UKVI teams, who deal with case escalation and enquiries,” the statement added. can help with Sponsor Licences

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