UK visa application excessive fees leads to huge increase in Home Office profits

Minister of State for Immigration Brandon Lewis

Minister of State for Immigration Brandon Lewis

Policy Exchange/Wikimedia Commons

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The Home Office has been accused of rejecting UK visa applications on technicalities in order to increase profits. The UK visa applicants then have to submit a second visa application and then pay the extremely high visa fees again.  The UK may have the highest Government visa fees in the World.   According to a report published by The Guardian, the Home Office is pocketing an 800% profit from some UK visa applications.

Sanwar Ali comments:

With the rush to reduce immigration it seems that fairness and justice is less of a concern.  If Government fees go up then the service should improve.  People should be told in advance if they do not qualify for a visa before spending money on a UK visa application.  However, forms and guidance documents can be very confusing so increasing the likelihood that a mistake will be made.  It also seems that Government Agencies or crypto Government Agencies are trying to reduce access to information for immigrants so making mistakes even more likely. This is something that you would expect to see in a "Totalitarian State".  As the Home Office has made it difficult and complicated to make visa applications it is extremely important that the independent sector is there to provide much needed information to immigrants and to report on problems in the UK visa system.

People often migrate to the UK using a Tier 2 visa for skilled workers, allowing them to work for a Tier 2 Sponsorship License holding UK employer.  These costs have also substantially increased.due to the immigration skills charge of up to £1,000 a year brought in on 6 April 2017.  The Tier 2 visa system is complex, with up to 85% of companies finding the Tier 2 UK visa process difficult,  Which is why thousands of people have asked for's help in their UK visa applications.

After analysing data, The Guardian alleges that the government agency is rejecting UK immigration applications on technicalities, despite many applicants being eligible for UK entry, in order to force people to reapply and pay again.

The Guardian’s findings reveal that the fees charged to make an application are massively inflated compared to what it costs the government to process each application. According to The Guardian report, since April 2017 the fee to file an application for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) for a vulnerable adult dependent has been set at £3,250.

However, to process an ILR application costs the government £423. In 2011, the then UK immigration minister, Damian Green announced that the government would charge fees significantly above the cost of processing in a desperate bid to offset the loss of funding for the UK immigration system.

Inflated UK visa fees ‘only right’

Commenting on the inflated fees charged to UK visa applicants, the Home Office claims that the approach is ‘only right.’ They argue that setting fees above costs is a necessity in order to reduce the burden on the taxpayer from the border, and to cover the cost of operating the immigration and citizenship system in areas not backed by funding.

However, the revelations concerning Home Office profits from UK visa fees is steeped in controversy. The size of the profit margins in particular have been called into question.

The news has sparked concerns that the department, which has been hit by 24.9 percent cuts to its annual £10.6 bn budget while being asked to outline further cuts of up to 6 percent, is purposely denying UK visa applications over minor issues with the intention of forcing applicants to pay again when reapplying.

UK visa fees continue to rise

A number of UK visa fees have risen by as much as 23 percent since 2016. The Home Office said that the visas selected for fees rises were those that deliver the most “significant benefits and entitlements for successful applicants” and refutes claims that financial gain has any bearing on the outcome of an immigration application.

According to The Guardian report, an application for indefinite leave to enter or remain – per person for the main applicant and each dependent – costs £2,297, an increase of 22.5 percent. It costs the government £252 to process each application.

Home Office profits from rejected applications and high visa fees

As a result of increased fees for ILR applications, the Home Office began to see profits surge in April. Meanwhile a 23 percent increase in fees for premium services has further boosted the department’s coffers.

Recently, the Home Office faced a backlash after introducing a charge of £5.48 for anyone contacting UK Visas and Immigration from overseas by email. The controversial fee was brought in after the Home Office outsourced its customer enquiries service to a private firm, Sitel UK.

A subsidiary of the French-owned Acticall Sitel Group, Sitel scrapped a number of languages in which services are available, reducing the number down to 8 from 20, including English.

Commenting on the overseas email fee, one source said: “In the light of the immense existing visa costs, the introduction of email fees is adding insult to injury and constitutes a dangerous precedent for charging for customer services more broadly.”

In response, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The approach is only right and fair. It ensures that those who benefit directly from the UK visa system contribute to it appropriately. Fee levels aim to strike a balance between generating income and maintaining global competitiveness.” can help with Tier 2 visas and Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licences 

If you need help with a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence, including help with complying with your Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence obligations can help. More and more employers are facing sudden unannounced onsite inspections. Contact us for a copy of our free Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence Compliance guide.