Visa Application Fees Consultation

With an annual budget of £2bn & 25,000 staff the UKBA proposed the consultation in order to address ways of maintaining the current immigration system in the face of more demanding conditions. The UKBA believes that those that benefit from the immigration system (i.e. migrants and employers) should contribute most to the cost of maintaining the system.

Feedback on Setting Fees

In recent years the UK Border Agency has set fees on the basis of a number of factors, not just the cost of processing a visa application. Factors include the cost of funding other areas of the system such as enforcement and the cost of generally improving the immigration system (such as the implementation of the Points Based System). By charging greater fees the UKBA intends to relieve pressure on the public finances. At the moment some visa processing fees, such as those for British Citizenship applications, have been set above the cost of delivery. The intention has been to ‘reflect the value of the product’ (i.e. British Citizenship is deemed valuable; therefore the UKBA charges a premium). In response to questions on setting fees:

  • 90% of respondents ‘agreed that fees should be set flexibly & take into account wider policy objectives’
  • Many said that the ‘UKBA must provide a good quality service in order to justify the charges set’
  • Many acknowledged that fees for applications such as British Citizenship should be set higher as they ‘represented greater benefits to migrants than applications for temporary residence of probationary citizenship’ (new stages to be introduced under Earned Citizenship ’)

Feedback on different fees for the same type of application

  • 59% of respondents agreed that different fees should be set for the same type of application
  • Respondents were split on whether fees should be the same for each country or lower for individuals from countries where it is more difficult to pay
  • Online applications were thought by the majority of respondents to merit a lower charge than other methods

Standard vs Premium Services

  • Over two thirds of respondents were in favour of charging higher fees for premium services
  • Many said that ‘the premium service would have to be vastly improved to justify a higher fee’

Dependent Visa Fees

  • Respondents were not in favour of charging an additional fee for each dependent

Charging Sponsors in accordance with sponsorship responsibilities

  • 43% of respondents agreed that it was a good idea to charge sponsors in line with compliance responsibilities
  • Many thought that B rated sponsors should pay a higher charge than A rated sponsors. This would incentivise B rated sponsors to work towards an A rating
  • Charging B rated sponsors would fund improvements in the service need to get them to an A rating

More Information & Next Steps

The UK Border Agency will now consider the consultation and present fee proposals to Parliament in February 2010.


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