Immigration and nationality fees unchanged for 2020/21

The list of fees for immigration and nationality applications was updated on 1 December 2020 to reflect the new or rebranded visa routes introduced on that date. The actual amounts are unchanged, though, and indeed application fees have mostly been frozen for the last two years. But there is a catch: the Immigration Health Surcharge, a separate tax on immigration, has increased sharply.

At the end of 2018, the health surcharge was £200 a year. A spouse applying for permission to remain in the UK would have paid £1,033 in processing fees for permission lasting two and a half years, plus £500 in health surcharge. The health surcharge doubled at the start of 2019 and rose further to £624 a year in October. So by the end of 2020, even with the headline fee staying the same, the total cost of that spouse application has jumped from £1,533 to £2,593 in just two years.

Money from the Immigration Health Surcharge is ringfenced for the NHS, but the Home Office makes a still hefty profit on the processing fees. A migrant applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK must pay £2,389. The cost to the Home Office of processing an ILR application is £243 — so the fee is set at ten times higher than the actual administrative cost.

Most outrageous of all is the application fee for registering a child as British. The fee in 2020/21 is still over £1,000, but the actual cost is £372. The High Court found last year that the Home Office had failed to assess the best interests of children in setting this fee, although it remains in place for the time being.

It is not just individual migrants who are being squeezed for fees. Employers who recruit foreign workers from outside the EU face a charge of £1,000 per worker per year (а lower charge of £364 per worker per year is applicable to small businesses and universities and there are some exemptions).

The charge only applies to new recruits, not existing ones, but is scheduled to kick in for new arrivals from the EU from the beginning of 2021.

Posted on Dec 08, 2020.

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