HSMP Forum Press Release

 Immigrants forced to pay excessive fees for Home Office Services  

Immigrants in the UK demand fair treatment from the Home Office! Since 2006, Immigrants in the UK have been forced to pay for the overall immigration services of the Home Office in the form of dual taxation rather than just paying for their application processing fee alone.  

By more than doubling the application fees for its monopoly services, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is behaving like a profit-making organisation and milking the immigrants’ cash-strapped finances to fund its other services.  

The Home Office is presently conducting a charging consultation to further increase the existing unwarranted high fees.1 HSMP Forum in its submission to the UKBA regarding the charging consultation pointed out that the fees charged for issuing entry clearance, visa extension and settlement have increased by more than 100% since April 2007.   

Amit Kapadia, executive director of the HSMP Forum and Association of Immigrants said: “We are very concerned over this unfair treatment, it is discriminatory and unethical. Immigrants already contribute to the UK economy by paying their taxes and it is deplorable to expect them to pay more than their share of the burden by paying for government’s or Home Office’s other services. It is a form of double taxation.”  

He also said the excess application fees charged to the immigrants and their families can amount from 50% to 100% of their monthly salaries, which adversely affects their finances. “It is unethical for a government agency to behave like a profit-making organisation especially with an appalling standard of service over long waiting times over the phone and delays in application consideration.” It is ironic that the Home Office in its Charging Consultation document stated that the “UK Border Agency is providing world class services”. 

The document ‘Charging for immigration and visa applications – Impact assessment’ suggests that the Government’s policy objective is to charge fees that recover approximately 30% of UK Border Agency’s overall costs. ‘The key costs and benefits estimate given in the impact assessment suggests that the expected income to be raised from applicants’ fees would be 48 million by 2010/11 and 113 million per year thereafter, while the actual processing costs are estimated to be 16 million in 2010/11 and 38 million per year thereafter’2. This clearly suggests a profit-centred approach.

Mr Kapadia said the Home Office’s principle that those who benefit more must proportionately pay more has been wrongly applied to immigrants. “The benefits supposedly claimed by immigrants are actually a fulfilment of the Home Office’s commitment towards an existing policy.  Therefore, suggesting that an extension, settlement or citizenship is a benefit to the immigrant raises a charitable undertone and is inappropriate, short-sighted and undervalues the immigrant’s contribution towards the UK economy.”

He said immigrants under visa rules do not receive any benefits and that by “trying to introduce an additional charge for what immigrants rightfully deserve would be undignified and would smack of British Nationality being on sale.”

UK Border Agency also intends to introduce separate application fees for dependents. Mr Kapadia said: “The additional charge for dependants would be unfair since the dependent’s application won’t be judged independently from the main applicant as it would rely and be connected with the main applicant. It is misleading for UK Border Agency to claim that it is concerned with ‘greater alignment between overseas and in-country pricing structure’ ”. He said greater alignment would have been possible by ensuring that it is favourable for the applicant. 

Notes to the Editor

1)      http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/consultations/221878/charging09/

2)      http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/consultations/221878/charging09/ia-charging?view=Binary

"HSMP Forum" is a not-for-profit organisation. HSMP Forum took its name from the UK's Highly Skilled Migrant Programme which was introduced in 2002. It represents migrants belonging to all immigration categories and campaigns on various immigration issues, it represents people of all nationalities and cultures. It is an immigrant support organisation and campaigns for immigrants cause. The organisation's aim is to support and assist migrants under the world-renowned British principles of fair play, equality and justice and believes in challenging any unfair policies, which undermines migrants’ interests. “Association of Immigrants” is a not-for-profit organisation launched by the HSMP Forum.

Media contact: Amit Kapadia

Email: info@hsmpforum.org

 
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