"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

British Citizens now forced to pay £7,198.29 in fees to be allowed to live in the UK with their spouse as a British family!

Author : LondonMark (Mark Stokes)

Another year and yet more extortionate increases in fees for British families with a non-EU spouse or partner.

With maximum fees published in Parliament for the coming 4 year period the unjustified above inflation increases look set to continue to climb for yet another 4 years.


Yet when presenting information to justify the increases in fees in Parliament, they stated that the actual unit cost of processing a Spouse Visa is £278 (FLR) - but they now want to charge £811. This is very misleading.

Anybody unfamiliar with the spouse visa system (including most MPs) would reasonably think that the cost of the visa for a British Citizen to live with their wife/husband or partner is only £811. Many still think that British Citizens do not even have to pay for a visa for their non-EU spouse - as used to be the case!

What most people who have not had to battle the Home Office don't realise is the process now takes over 5 years (10 years if you can only stay here with family on the basis of your human rights) and has to be applied for several times providing relatively the same information, yet paying an application fee each time!

Even the now compulsory approved English language tests deliberately expires after 2 years - even though the visa re-application stages are every 2.5 years. This is a disproportionate and gross interference in people's lives by the State. During this time couples are in a state of limbo known as the 'probation period'.

The word 'probation' emphasises that they are being treated like criminals in what the Independent Inspector has called 'a culture of disbelief at the Home Office'. This has effects including: 

  • not being able get mortgages if both incomes are needed 
  • not being able to get a mortgage at all due to having to wait an extra 5 years will put them over the age limit to get a mortgage(this was only relaxed and increased from 40 this year)
  • companies reluctant to give long term contracts because the visas are only 2.5 years long
  • restrictions on travel due to conditions underlying ILR and naturalisation
  • savings or investments(including homes) needlessly liquidated at considerable cost (fees, taxes, inflation etc) 
  • couples in fear of what might happen if they lose their job just before the next application is due. 
  • couples delaying having children for up to five years, in case one income is not sufficient to meet Home Office requirements
  • mothers not taking their full maternity allownce, in fear of falling foul of the income requirement 
At a time that should be filled with joy, and that should be a couple's honeymoon period and building plans for the future, instead their world is turned upside down with often unbearable levels of stress.

This March saw the fees rise disproportionately yet again, less than a year since huge rises were implemented previously. This year they even introduced the rises a month early than the traditional April to maximise the income from the rises by pushing more income into the earlier tax year and generally catch people out who would normally apply by April, to beat the rises.

This is now causing even many more families immigration fee poverty, that is if they first can even earn enough to be allowed to apply.

So why do I say the visa cost is £7,198.29?

As a British citizen you have to now pay the following in stages for your spouse to stay here:

In Country Applications

  1. LTR (£811) the first in country application after being married, (£162 increase in addition to last years £48 increase)
  2. NHS Health surcharge at £200 per year of validity for a visa of 30 months (£500) (new last year)
  3. Biometric Fee (£19.20), 
  4. Accommodation inspection report fee from HO approved contractor (£180) - varies per location but is only valid for 3 months
  5. Approved English Language Test A1 (valid for only 2 years) (£150) - some people will be exempt from this
  6. Tuberculosis test (£65) - approx. cost as varies per country. Only those from high risk countries will need this.
£1,725.20
  1. FLR (£811) at the 2.5 year mark (£162 increase in addition to last years £48 increase)
  2. Health surcharge at £200 per year of validity of the 30 month visa  (£500)
  3. Biometric Fee (£19.20) at each application the same biometrics are taken again with a fee paid to the Post Office
  4. Accommodation inspection report fee from HO approved contractor (£180) - varies per location but is only valid for 3 months
  5. Approved English Language Test A1 (valid for only 2 years so needed to be taken again) (£150) - some people will be exempt from this
£1,660.20
  1. ILR (£1,875) at the 5 year mark, another £375 (20%) increase in addition to a £407 or 37% increase last year
  2. Life in the UK test (£50)  Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship Book (£12.99)
  3. Accommodation inspection report fee from HO approved contractor (£180) - varies per location but is only valid for 3 months
  4. Approved English Language Test B1 (higher level need for this stage valid for only 2 years) (£150) - some people will be exempt from this
  5. Biometric Fee (£19.20) yet again (do people's fingerprints change in 2.5 years?!!!)
£2,287.19

Sub Total £5,672.59
  1. Naturalisation (£1,156) after receiving ILR, a £231 increase in addition to last years £19 increase 
  2. Arrangement of a Citizenship Ceremony (£80)
  3. Certified certificate of Nationality (£198)
  4. Biometric Fee (£19.20)
  5. Passport fee (£72.50) (optional but needed for travel on an equal basis as the rest of your family)
£1,525.70

Total £7,198.29

But for some people it costs even more.

In Person Applications
If you need to travel because of work or family and can not have your passport kept by the Home Office for sometimes over 6 months at a time then you have no choice but to do an in person application each time which costs £500 (£100 increase since last year)each time. So that would be (£1,500) extra - for naturalisation you can not use the priority service :

Total £8,698.29

Overseas Application
If you are applying from outside of the UK then it is more as the first application is Settlement instead of LTR for overseas initial applications and costs (£1,195) which is £239 more this year in addition to the  £307 increase from last year. 

As the initial visa issued to overseas applications is for 33 months then the health surcharge is then (£600) which is £100 more. even though this is just 3 months extra the Home Office is charging people 6 months extra! If you are not in a country that has a visa centre then a (£115) receiving fee and an outside of the UK visa application centre fee of (£70)

(£150) to take an approved English test at an approved centre if you are not already exempt from the English language requirement (cost can be much more due to fluctuating exchange rates).

Some countries will need to pay to have a TB test that is about (£65)

Accommodation inspection report fee from HO approved contractor (£180) - varies per location but is only valid for 3 months.

Then when you arrive in this country an In country biometric enrolment fee (£19.20) to eventually get the visa on a BRP so would give 

Total £7,837.29

Additionally fees can vary in different countries due to the different companies and how exchange rates are implemented and variations in exchange rates can even be 30% for more for unstable currencies.

10 Year Route Applications

Anybody who has been forced onto the 10 year route then the fees would be as they need to make two more applications for FLR

Total £10,518.69

If you need a transfer of conditions to a new passport when the old one expires (this will be more common now that the probation period is 5 years) you will be charged £183 or £260 if you have ILR

This does not include the increased complexity of the forms (44 pages long) etc that Brits have to wade through. The complexity is such that even the well-educated need the help of solicitors or peer groups just to fill them in, so slap on lawyer's fees, cost of extra English lessons, validation fees of qualifications, translation fees and court, legal and judicial review fees(which have increased substantially this year) we have to go through when the H.O. get things wrong. (Update - as of 10th October, the fees for appealing a HO refusal has gone up by around 500%)

If your spouse has a non-British/non-EU child then the costs will be even higher.

Even the new Helpline now costs £1.37 per Minute  or £4.00 for the web chat (one of the few costs not increased this year)

By comparison Residence Documents issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations are not mandatory although may be needed if you wish to naturalise at a later date.

EU National Route Applications


For EU Citizens bringing their spouses here using the EU National route
  1. EEA family permit (Free)  is normally for 6 months and allows multiple entry to the UK (https://www.gov.uk/family-permit)
  2. after 6 months can apply for 5 year Residence card (£65)
  3. Permanent Residence Card (£65) after 5 years of residence in the UK
Total £130 (but is technically optional)

The spouse is only allowed outside the UK 6 months a year.

Spouse visas for British Citizens should not cost anything as the British Citizen is already paying for them indirectly through their taxes. Now with the health surcharge, many are paying 4 times for the same thing as often both members of the couple are already paying taxes and national insurance over the 5 years yet the spouse also has the endorsement on their visa not allowing them to have recourse to public funds anyway(this restriction existed before the 2012 changes). Also previous pre-2012 increases already added a immigrant fund surcharge and for the use of services.

So why are we now being charged now 20.4 times (excluding naturalisation costs) what it should costs for something we have already paid for through our taxes? 

Why are British Citizens (most of them born and bred in the UK) being ripped off and discriminated against just because their spouses were born in a non-EU country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!? This is discrimination and undue prolonged interference in their family and private life.

Even after being ripped off extortionately above what should be classed as super premium fees the level of service offered is lacking with many applications refused with the fees being pocketed, applications delayed due to staff cutbacks and many mistakes made with them not quickly corrected etc 

Even the application forms are still not fit for purpose and treat British Citizens like immigrants. An example is on the spouse application form 
'Question: 7.22 is your sponsor currently living in the UK? 
Put a cross (x) in the relevant box. 
If ‘Yes’ please provide the date of when he/she first arrived in the UK'

Let's put these fees into context:
An application for a visit visa for a period of five years is £600 (£12 increase since last year).

The Government say that all applicants should be earning a minimum of £18,600 per year even though 47% of the working population earn below this.

So now anybody earning £18,600 would have to pay 38.7% of their annual income in application and visa fees!  Last year it was 27% and the year before that 18%.

But Justice Blake in his MM ruling in 2013 suggested to be fair that the minimum income should be £13,400 

So given that, anybody earning £13,400 would have to pay 53.7% of their annual income in visa fees just to exercise the fundamental right of living with their spouse. 

A household used to be considered to be fuel poor if they were required to spend more than 10% of their income on fuel to maintain an adequate standard of warmth.  

This is causing many families 'immigration fee poverty', that is if they first can earn enough to be even allowed to apply.


Is it fair that British citizens now have to pay nearly 40% of an income which itself is c50% above the annual earnings a person working full-time on the minimum wage would warn, in fees to the Home Office, just to be able to stay together in the UK with their spouse, without restrictions?



Sources of current fees and costs etc:

Health surcharge 2
Annual data  
Property/accommodation Inspection Report 

Appointment booking fee (premium service centre)  £100
Application in person (premium service centre) £500 includes £100 appointment booking fee
Passport pass-back £42
Receiving, preparing and forwarding documents £115
Acceptance of application at Visa Application centre outside the UK  £70

If you withdraw your application before a decision is issued you will be charged £80
If a mistake is made in the processing of your application you will be charged an Administrative review fee  £80

14 comments:

  1. This is Penalising the British born and bred like my wife and me!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. this is extortion
    I have been a born and bred law abiding citizen all my life and am treated like this if I did this to another they would put me in prison come on britcits how do we escalate this fight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The most effective way is to spread the information so firstly people know that this is happening. Next contact your MP and get them to ask questions in Parliament. You can also ask them to raise an early day motion or an end of day motion so it will be debated in Parliament and officially reported in Hansard (this is faster and more effective than petitions) Most importantly tell your MP your personal story and how this impacts your life, your family, how it makes you feel and the difficulties it causes.

      Delete
  3. very unfair and it is targeting non Eu citizens who have settled in UK.
    I am going to start a petition. Please support

    ReplyDelete
  4. very unfair and it is targeting non Eu citizens who have settled in UK.
    I am going to start a petition. Please support

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I started one Here

      https://www.change.org/p/robert-goodwill-mp-make-the-ukba-charge-immigration-visa-fees-in-gbp-s-instead-of-usd-s?recruiter=46570503&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

      Delete
  5. It is discriminating. Very sad to see this happen in uk.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sorry to swear - but this is utter bollocks, makes me so angry.

    It's way cheaper realistically to just go down the Surrinder Singh route no doubt, but that's not possible for a lot of people.

    EU citizens effectively have more rights than British citizens in Britain... work that out

    ReplyDelete
  7. It is not just EU citizens!
    Working Visa Holders, Students and even Refugees have less restrictions on bringing their spouses here than British Citizens who have Non-EU spouses!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am currently going through this whole process with my wife and son.
    It has financial, emotional and psychological damage on families. Some families are separated because of the 18600 minimum income rules for spousal visas (families are waiting for a supreme Court outcome on this soon)
    Anything that anybody can do to shed serious public light on this will be greatly appreciated by the affected families... And also there children for a long time...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have a meeting with my MP on Friday regarding the FM rules. This has been printed as evidence of the extortion that the Tories are conducting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Paul...how did the meeting go?

      Delete
  10. And its not just the fees when you got to UKBA to pay for the visa itr charges in US dollars (no option to pay in pounds) so you have to pay $1816 for the settlement visa which converts to £1490 (at current exchange rates.) You won"t see this extortionate amount charged until you get your bank / or card statment + the fee charged by the bank. This is simply a scandal. Why does the gov have to do this to cut immigration because EU immmigration will go down with after brexit? Its grossly unfair to UK citizens.

    ReplyDelete