Speaking for Ourselves

Raising awareness of the impact of the visa process and costs on mental health and families

Raising awareness of the impact of the visa process and costs on mental health and families


 Migrant Voice - Raising awareness of the impact of the visa process and costs on mental health and families

For Mental Health Awareness Week and the UN Day of Families, which falls on Sunday, Migrant Voice is partnering with Reunite Families UK and Praxis to raise awareness on how the UK immigration system affects migrants, their families and their mental health.

The extortionate costs of visas very clearly impact on many migrants’ finances, with people expected to pay at least £2,593 every 2.5 years until they get permanent residence. But the cost to people’s mental health and wellbeing is just as serious, if not worse.

Our latest report shows this clearly. Almost all migrants (95%) who took part in our research told us they experienced negative feelings when thinking about their situation in relation to the visa costs. Many mentioned feeling depressed, “hopeless”, “scared for the future”, “anxious”, while some said that themselves or a family member has had suicidal thoughts caused by their situation.

Many participants told us they felt lonely and isolated: some could not afford to meet friends and loved ones – or to have a meal out with them – as they had to save as much as possible before the next visa renewal. In some cases, shame and unpaid debts prevent migrants from getting in touch with their support group, leading to increased isolation.

Others said they could not travel to their home countries to see their families of origins. This was either due to the high costs of travel tickets, or to their pending application for a visa renewal.

But it is not only the high visa costs that cause distress and psychological issues. The UK visa and immigration system, as a whole, can have severe mental health impacts on people that must go through it.

The visa application and renewal process is lengthy and intricate; a small mistake, such as a typo, can lead to a refusal (and to thousands of pounds lost); months pass between an application and a decision without little to no communication from the Home Office. The risk of becoming undocumented can hang over people’s heads as a realistic threat.

For those on the 10-year route to settlement, this incredibly long period of time exacerbates the risks and prolongs the instability people face and its negative effects.

Too often, families are kept apart by immigration policies such as the minimum income requirement, which Reunite Families UK is campaigning to abolish, and which forces British citizens to prove they earn a certain amount of money before their foreign partner is allowed to move to the country. Many children are growing up away from one of their parents because of these rules; the mental health consequences can be serious and lifelong.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We are campaigning to reduce the extortionate visa costs that too many migrants are enduring and put a cap on routes to settlement at five years: make your voice heard and join us.

We are running a Twitter campaign with Reunite Families UK and Praxis: follow our social media and use the hashtag #WhatsTheRealCost.

Share our report and spread the word about extortionate visa costs.

This week, write a letter to your MP to tell them why you stand for a fairer immigration system: you can find instructions on how to do it and a template here.

It’s time to act.

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)

Our Social Links

Sign up for our newsletter

For more information on how your data is stored and used please see our privacy policy

Read our recent newsletters