migrantvoice
Speaking for Ourselves

Editorial: The fees must fall

Editorial: The fees must fall

MV

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Editorial: The fees must fall

Disproportionate and discriminatory immigration fees in the UK mean that thousands of people are never able to claim their rights. They are priced out of citizenship, often priced out of legal status.

We are disappointed by the response of the Home Office to the independent inquiry into immigration fees and we are renewing our call for urgent action by policymakers to reduce these extortionate costs.

Why should someone taking up their right to citizenship in the UK have to pay 5 times more than someone in Germany, and 25 times more than someone in France?

Why should a family with two children be forced to fork out a mind-boggling £47,000 over the decade it takes for them to earn the right to British citizenship?

At our network meeting in Birmingham in March, a number of local residents told us about the often devastating impact of the fees.

One of those people is a support worker. She works 50 hours per week, often night shifts, and she’s a single mother. Just keeping on top of rent, bills and food is hard enough.

“How can we even afford clothes to put on our children? And we still have to be finding £3,000 to send off for paperwork.”

Another woman told us of her fear as she faces the prospect of renewing visas for herself and her children later this year. She gave birth to twins last year, but their visas will expire before they even reach their second birthday, as the Home Office issued them when their mother was only two months pregnant.

We know from these stories, and from testimony from immigration solicitors and other charities that it’s often families who suffer the most, squeezed into destitution and often forced to make agonising choices about which child will get status, as they can only afford the fees for one.

We welcome many of the recommendations made in the report published on 4 April 2019 by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration. We welcome his call for more transparency in how the Home Office calculates the fees, and his calls for a review of the fee waiver process, and a review of settlement routes, including the possibility of “tapering” the fees so each visa renewal costs less than the previous one.

But we’re frustrated that the Home Office only partially accepted many of the Inspector’s recommendations, and that the government has refused to conduct a full public consultation on the issue.

With each passing week, more families are being forced to bankrupt themselves, just to access their rights.

We call on the government to act now to reduce immigration fees significantly and bring them in line with our European neighbours in France and Germany, helping to make the UK a welcoming and affordable place for families.

Read our full briefing in response to the Chief Inspector's report here.

And read our previous editorial on this issue here.

 

TOP IMAGE: Family, mrhayata (Flickr, CC BY 2.0)