Speaking for Ourselves

Destroying hopes, dreams and lives: How the UK visa costs and process impact migrants' lives

Destroying hopes, dreams and lives: How the UK visa costs and process impact migrants' lives


 Migrant Voice - Destroying hopes, dreams and lives: How the UK visa costs and process impact migrants' lives

As part of our campaign to reduce extortionate visa costs, we're launching a report on the impact that visa fees and the visa application process has on migrants.

Read the report here.

The report shows how the cost of visas puts a strain on the lives of innumerable migrants and their families.

A migrant on a route to settlement pays at least £2,593 every 2.5 years for a visa application and NHS surcharge. Many face additional costs, including legal fees. All this comes on top of the taxes and bills they pay along with everyone else. Many are not entitled to access public funds, such as housing benefits.

And it doesn’t end here: in some cases, migrants are being charged more than seven times the administrative cost of their visa.

Based on the experiences of more than 100 migrants, some of the key findings from our report are:

  • People can expect to pay tens of thousands of pounds per person during their settlement journey. Two thirds of respondents reported they spent thousands of pounds in additional costs alone, including the International Health Surcharge.
  • Two thirds of migrants we have spoken to are or have been in debt to afford their visas.
  • Over half the respondents came to the UK over a decade ago, yet many still have no citizenship or Indefinite Leave to Remain. Their status is still temporary, and they risk losing it with each renewal process.
  • 95% of respondents told us they had extremely negative feelings about their situation; ‘Living hell’, ‘terrible’, ‘hopeless, ‘mental torture’ and ‘ruined life’ were among the words used.
  • The impact was felt in every area of life, from hunger and health, with one respondent saying: “I can’t feed my kids due to the visa fees and borrowing money”, to vulnerability at work, from strained relationships to mental distress.
  • The burden of visa costs and the debt many people find themselves in has a knock-on effect on the next generation, as people told us they could not afford to support their children with higher education and other life opportunities.

It is clear that the current system is impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of migrants, who benefit and enrich our society every day.

We believe the British immigration system needs to change, and we offer these recommendations:

  • Reduce visa fees for adults to administrative costs only, and abolish fees for children
  • Abolish the Immigration Health Surcharge
  • Cut the time needed for permanent settlement from 10 years to five
  • Speed up and improve the Home Office decision-making process and communication with visa applicants
  • Introduce a quicker, simpler, less stressful visa application process

The report was launched on 27 April 2022 from 5 – 7PM in the Houses of Parliament.

Follow our social media to stay updated about the event. You will hear from Migrant Voice about the findings of our research, from legal and policy experts on how we can create a fairer visa and immigration system and from many migrants who will share their first-hand experiences of the impact of having to pay these extortionate visa fees.

Read the report here.

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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