Speaking for Ourselves

Our campaign against the extortionate cost of visas: Our asks


Our campaign against the extortionate cost of visas: Our asks

Migrant Voice’s recommendations come from the findings of our report as well as the calls for changes from migrants who we spoke to as part of our research and have worked with during our campaign against extortionate visa fees.

Migrant Voice are therefore calling for the following changes:

  • Reduce visa costs
  • Cap all routes to settlement at 5 years
  • Cut waiting times and improve communication from the Home Office
  • Devise a quicker, simplified and less stressful visa application process


Reduce visa costs:

Visa fees for adults must not be higher than the administrative cost, children should go free.

The cost of visas is far above the actual administrative cost of processing them. In some cases the charge is 7-10 times higher. It is unjust that migrants should be paying above the administrative cost to the Home Office to process their visa.

The extortionate costs mean that many are struggling to pay for their visas, forced into making an impossible choice between saving for the fees and meeting other basic needs.

Currently, every family member is charged the same visa fee. Migrant Voice believes children’s applications should be free. Further, where children and/or any other dependants are part of the same main application, only the adult applicants should pay.


Abolish the Immigration Health Surcharge

The Immigration Health Surcharge is a significant part of the cost of the visa application that increases the financial burden unnecessarily and acts as a double taxation. Migrants already contribute to the NHS through taxes yet are asked to pay again, and to pay an enhanced cost upfront. While it is positive that NHS workers have been exempt from paying this since 2020, too many others are still paying double to access the NHS. The rate at which the charge has increased is also a concern.


Cap all routes to settlement at 5 years

All routes to settlement should be no longer than 5 years: migrants currently on longer routes must be given settlement or placed on a shorter route.

The length of time people stay on the route to settlement adds to the financial burden, keeps people in limbo, and increases the risk of harm caused by the process. It also increases the likelihood that life circumstances could lead to someone being unable to afford their visa fees and risk falling out of status. Placing people on the 10-year route penalises those who can least afford it and makes them pay for a much longer period.

Yet more than 100,000 migrants are currently on a 10-year route to settlement. This is very concerning.


Cut waiting times and improve communication from the Home Office

Because of lengthy waiting times for a decision on visas - which can exceed 10 months - migrants are pushed further into uncertainty and stress including in relation to their job security, accommodation, and travel. Protracted wait times are accompanied by an appalling lack of communication from the Home Office, which will not give updates until at least six months have elapsed.

Lack of communication, long wait times, and fear that a Home Office oversight may cause a rejection are all factors that cause considerable additional stress to many migrants. Migrant Voice recommends a move towards a digital, streamlined process where you can log in and track your case through the processing timeline.


Devise a quicker, simplified and less stressful visa application process

The application process causes a high level of anxiety and stress due to the complicated application form and constantly changing rules.

Many applicants need specialist help from a solicitor, further adding to the total cost of the application. Furthermore, changes to the legal aid system mean that fewer applicants now qualify.

If a visa application is refused the individual may end up undocumented or have the clock start over on their route to settlement.

Migrant Voice urges that minor mistakes on applications can be corrected at no extra cost and without penalising the applicant.

The Home Office should automatically refund visa application fee payments when refusal is due to an error of its own, rather than forcing the applicant to pay for a lawyer to ask for the refund.

Get in touch

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

Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: info@migrantvoice.org

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

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