Last year, we saw numerous consultations emerging from the Home Office think tank. The latest consultation that grabbed the headlines was the recent fee consultation.
The Home Office, in this consultation invited respondents to comment and provide suggestions as to whether there should be fee increases in April 2014 and how these fees should be structured.
Not surprisingly, businesses, stakeholders and interested parties all expressed wishes for fees to be decreased in certain areas and that any fee increases should be structured and simplified. The key message that also came out alongside this is that in addition stakeholders expect the Home Office to offer better service standards.
Only a few days after the response to the consultation was published the Home Office released proposed fees from April 2014.
The new proposed fees from April 2014 will see a 4% increase to most current fees from Visit visas through to Points Based applications and settlement applications. Although the increase equates to at least 1.9% above current rate of inflation, in practical terms many increases are as minimal as £3.
It is applications for dependants which will see the largest increase as dependant applications under all PBS categories are set to increase by at least 38% which means increases of around £300 for some applications.
To put this in perspective, a standard Tier 1 applicant with a partner and 2 children will be expecting to a pay a minimum Home Office fee of £4,372 to have their application processed.
There is some good news on the fee front however with the Home Office reducing applications fees by 26% for jobs which are currently on the shortage occupation list.
Alongside new fees, other more positive changes are being proposed such as the revival of the 5 years work visa, similar to that of the pre-2008 rules.
The Home Office intends in future to allow applicants to be able to apply for a 5 year visa from the outset rather than having to apply for an initial 3 year visa followed by a 2 year extension, which is certainly a welcomed proposal.
Apart from this, the Home Office will deduct immigration applications fees for jobs which are on the shortage occupation list by 26% of the currently and 11.1% in respect of fees for shortage skill occupation migrant dependants.
In addition, certain premium services that are currently offered only in certain locations will be expanded across a wider range of countries and will include premium visa services and the introduction of new services such as priority visa service for settlement, prime-time visa application centre appointments, a registered traveller service and international contact centre services which aim to speed up and simplifying the immigration application experience.
If you wish to find out more on how the new fee schedule may affect you, please contact us.