London: The proposed visa fee hike introduced by the British government is now officially in effect, impacting travelers from around the world, including Indians. This decision, following legislation tabled in Parliament last month, will lead to changes in visa costs for visitors to the United Kingdom.
Effective from Wednesday, visitors applying for a visit visa for a stay of fewer than six months will face an additional cost of GBP 15. Similarly, student visa applicants from outside the UK will see an increase of GBP 127 in their fees.
This adjustment aligns the fee for applying for a student visa from abroad with the amount charged for in-country applications.
A spokesperson from the UK Home Office stated, “It is right and fair to increase visa application fees so we can fund vital public services and allow wider funding to contribute to public sector pay.”
This move comes as a result of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement in July. At that time, he indicated that fees and health surcharges paid by visa applicants would rise significantly to support the UK’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) and accommodate public sector wage increases.
“We are going to increase the charges that we have for migrants who are coming to this country when they apply for visas and indeed something called the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is the levy that they pay to access the NHS,” Sunak had stated.
The fee increase affects various visa categories, including most work and visit visas. Additionally, priority visas, study visas, and certificates of sponsorship will see an increase of at least 20 percent.
“Income from fees charged plays a vital role in the Home Office’s ability to run a sustainable immigration and nationality system. Careful consideration is given when setting fees to help reduce the funding contribution from British taxpayers, whilst continuing to provide a service that remains attractive to those wishing to work in the UK and support broader prosperity for all,” explained the Home Office.
The UK’s Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) expressed concerns about the fee hike, describing it as “unfair, divisive, and dangerous.” They emphasized that raising visa fees for individuals making the UK their home during a cost-of-living crisis could leave families struggling to afford essentials.
A proposed increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for contributions towards the NHS is expected to be introduced later this year, further impacting visa applicants.