A massive increase in visa fees for people applying for permission for vulnerable family members to move to the UK has been imposed by the government.
The cost of a visa for an adult dependent will leap almost 300 percent frrom £585 to £1,680 from April 6 this year – and immigration minister Phil Woolas has confirmed this is way above the actual administrative costs of the application.
JCWI has lobbied both MPs and Lords because the prohibatively expensive fees could prevent people enjoying their right to family life and could prove more discriminatory against women, who are more likely to be responsible for dependent relatives.
The liberal democrat Lord Avebury raised concerns about discrimination during the House of Lords debate.
He said: “The impact assessment states plainly that gender equality was not looked at and no results were annexed to it which enable one to judge the relative numbers of dependants and heads of households who were applying to come here and whether there was a gross disparity between the two?
Dr Evan Harris, who is member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, referred to policy advice drawn up by JCWI before becoming the only MP to vote against the increases.
He told the committee: ”Imposing the sort of fee increases we are talking about on dependent relatives—often women—means that those households will face a threefold increase in the fee, but the fee will be six times as high as the estimated unit cost.
“They are being singled out and will be made to put a much larger subsidy into the system than almost all the other groups.
“If one were interested in redistribution one might ask why premier league footballers are being made to pay only 7.5 times as much as the actual cost of a settlement visa, while a dependent relative, albeit someone who cannot kick a football, is expected to pay six times as much as the estimated actual cost.”
Hina Majid, policy director at JCWI, said: “It is spectacularly retrogressive to target elderly people living in poor conditions who desperately need care and support by their relatives in this way.”
The new fees are set out in full on the JCWI website which can be found HERE.