Speaking for Ourselves

Overview: Our campaign against the extortionate cost of visas

Overview: Our campaign against the extortionate cost of visas


 Migrant Voice - Overview: Our campaign against the extortionate cost of visas


Migrant Voice is campaigning for a fairer immigration system together with migrants directly affected by extortionate visa costs.

The issue

We have known for several years from our members that the cost and process of renewing their visas in the UK was causing anxiety, concern and financial difficulties and keeping people in limbo for long periods.

Currently, a 2.5-year visa renewal application fee is £1,048. On top of it, people must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (also known as NHS Surcharge), which is currently £624 a year as well as other additional costs. This means that, in total, people must pay at least £2,608 every 2.5 years just to continue living in the UK. Moreover, the fees are per person, so a family of four will have to pay almost four times as much (there is a slightly reduced IHS fee for dependent children).

People on ‘routes to settlement’ can get permanent residence after 5 or 10 years, depending on the route they are on. This means many have to pay over £10,000 per person before they can apply for permanent residence.

The application fee charged is over seven times the actual processing cost of the application. This level of profiteering is inhumane – and many people face financial insecurity, distress and health issues as a consequence of the costs.

Our report

In 2021, we carried out a study to understand better how this complex area of the immigration system is affecting migrants and to share these findings widely. We are concerned that the serious financial burden together with the stress and anxiety of the application process have a detrimental effect on every aspect of migrants’ lives.

We published the results in April 2022. Our report shows the shocking situation too many people are forced into.

Some key findings:

  • A third of respondents told us they have so far paid around £20,000 overall (for themselves and/or their family members), with 10% having paid in excess of £40,000. Many still have to complete their routes to settlement – and pay more – before they can apply for permanent residence.
  • Two-thirds of respondents told us that they have been forced into debt to pay for their visa costs, with people reporting debts reaching £30,000.
  • The burden of paying such high visa costs affects almost every aspect of life. Our research showed that people are more vulnerable to exploitation at work, working extra long hours, taking fewer breaks, working while sick, accepting lower paid work, because of the amount of money they must save to renew their visas.
  • The application process and the costs associated with it have a detrimental effect on physical and mental health, with anxiety over the application process, waiting times, and striving to raise the funds causing people severe distress.
  • Many felt unable to lead what they consider a “normal” life, with 95% of respondents reporting having extremely negative feelings about their situation.

Our campaign asks

We care calling for changes to visa costs and the visa application system, which would considerably improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of migrants in this country. Our demands are:

  • Reducing visa fees to administrative costs for adults, while abolishing them for children
  • Abolishing the Immigration Health Surcharge
  • Cutting the time needed for permanent settlement from 10 years to five
  • Speeding up and improving the Home Office decision-making process and communication with visa applicants
  • Introducing a quicker, simpler, less stressful visa application process.

To read more about our campaign, find resources, and find out how to get involved, see our campaign page.

Get in touch

Migrant Voice
VAI, 200a Pentonville Road,
N1 9JP

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

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

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