migrantvoice
Speaking for Ourselves

£11k in extortionate visa fees to have the right to live in the UK

£11k in extortionate visa fees to have the right to live in the UK

Livia Barreira

 Migrant Voice - £11k in extortionate visa fees to have the right to live in the UK

TUESDAY 26 APRIL 2022

Let me introduce myself. My name is Livia Barreira. I am a proud Brazilian journalist who has been calling the UK my home for the last six years. Throughout all this time, I have been working hard to engage with and promote my city, Sheffield, to highlight meaningful projects in my community and to give my support to others (especially small businesses and female migrants like me). I am very energetic and I love to wake up in the morning and know that I am going to make a difference to other people’s lives that day. People stop me on the streets and at local events to say how much they admire me, my energy and my courage. I am someone special here. I know it. However, I have noticed that people don’t have any idea about the fact that to have the right to live in the UK I already paid nearly £11,000 in extortionate visas.

After a very challenging 5-year visa route, I just got Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), my permanent residence permit. My settlement journey was extremely expensive and stressful, as well as being hard emotionally (I had depression in a few moments of my life in the UK, especially when it was close to the expiry date of each visa). To be able to live in this country with my husband, who I love so much, we spent all this time saving money to make sure we would have enough to cover my visa fees. For example, we couldn’t afford a trip to Brazil to visit my family last November, after two years without seeing them because of the pandemic. It was tough, but we decided that I mentally needed that trip so much after the hard times of Covid. So I went there on my own. It was too expensive for both of us to go as we knew we had my ILR bill coming up in a couple of months.

For my last visa (ILR) I was charged £3,200. As the standard application takes up to six months to get a decision by the Home Office, I decided to pay an extra £800 for the priority service, and in four hours I received an email saying that my application was successful. It is all about money. This is totally absurd! It doesn’t make any sense: four hours or six months.

They play with our emotions. They make us feel anxious.

Yes, we need a lot of courage and resilience to start a new life in another country. Migration can be lonely and depressing. Even if you are an honest person trying your best to add positive things to the place where you are living, the immigration system can be cruel to you. Unfortunately, many people don’t know about this unfair challenge, and many migrants like myself are struggling in silence in the UK. Putting together my fiancé visa, spouse visa, spouse visa extension and Indefinite Leave to Remain I spent approximately £11,000.

I am not saying the Home Office doesn’t need to charge migrants anything, but we are clearly being overcharged, and someone is making really good money with extortionate visa fees. I cannot see many people talking about this issue. I think the situation can be intimidating and migrants normally feel scared of using their voices to speak out. However, the government cannot simply charge us a fortune and expect that we will just accept it in silence. We will not. There must be a limit! I could just be quiet now as I already conquered my permanent residency in the country, but I really wish other migrants coming after me won’t need to face this struggle.

I didn’t move to the UK to take advantage of the British system. From my point of view, it is the other way around. I have been adding so much diversity and positive things to my community, while at the same time I was financially and emotionally abused by the immigration system.

Livia Barreira is a journalist living in Sheffield. She has written her first book about the experiences of eight female migrants in her city and is raising funds to publish it.

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London
N1 9JP

Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: [email protected]

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Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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