Every immigration practitioner has 6th April every year as an important date in their diary and minds, not because it is the start the new HMRC tax year, but because this is the date the Home Office usually increase their application fees for the next year. Although, I seem to recall one year in the not too distant past, they snuck a fee increase in March!
However, this year, it seems there will be no fee increases for immigration applications made in or outside the UK. Can this be right? In a publication issued on the UK Visas & Immigration website on 24 February 2020, a document titled ‘Home Office immigration and nationality fees 2020’.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visa-regulations-revised-table lists the current fees for every visa application made in and outside the UK. What is surprising is that there are no proposed fee increases for any immigration application in the coming year according to this document. Even when compared to last year, there were marginal increases in some applications made outside of the UK – visit visas increased by £2-24 depending on the length requested, and the super priority service was also increased by £190. So, if this is correct and there are to be no fee increases this year, it will be the first time since I have been practising immigration (12 years) that there will be no fee increases across the board.
The decision not to increase application fees does seem slightly at odds, coming from a department who are keen to push through a program of a reduction in net migration in an increased hostile environment for migrants.
Although, this is unlikely to be as a result of the Home Office thinking about migrants’ pockets and the financial burden an immigration application places them under but more likely due to the fact the Home Office intend to increase the immigration health surcharge later this year from £400 per year to £625 per year (this is after it was doubled at the end of 2018). This will result in migrants and their family members having to fork out an extra £675 per person on top of visa fees, so a decision not to increase the application fees may come as a welcome surprise to some.
This article is intended as a general summary – no reliance should be placed on it.