Category Archives: Immigration Fees

MOJ announces charges for appeals

We previously blogged about the MOJ consultation proposals to introduce a system in which fees are payable for immigration/asylum appeals. The MOJ has now issued its response to its recent consultation. This details forthcoming proposals that are to take effect in October 2011. We’ve done a quick summary of the key proposed changes for you below. Continue reading

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Huge visa fee increase for vulnerable family members

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?

“If the heads of households were predominantly men and the dependent relatives were very largely women, the huge fees charged for relatives would thereby be discriminatory.”

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.


MPs agree huge visa fee increase

A committee of MPs has agreed new visa fees despite considering evidence from JCWI that women and elderly relatives will be hardest hit.

The proposed fees will now go before the House of Lords on March 4, 2010 with the debate chaired by Lord West of Spithead.

Visa fees for adult ‘dependant relatives’ will be increased from £585.00 to £1680.00, and for the cost of making a settlement applications to rise from £820 to £1680.00, or £1930, if the new recommendations are accepted.

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.

“That does not seem to me to be anywhere near redistributive. If one looked at disposable income, as the Conservative spokesman suggested, even the ratio of £15,000 to anything else on the page is nowhere near in line with the ability to pay. The Minister was quite right not to make too great an assertion that the measure was redistributive.”

 He added: “I do not know whether the Minister has seen, as I have, a series of case studies from the Joint Committee for the Welfare of Immigrants, dealing with people who are often vulnerable, who often come to the UK as children and are then abandoned and need to sort out their status.

“However, they are unable to sort out their status because they cannot afford the fee. They are left in limbo for longer, which does not serve their interest and does not serve the interests of the country either. Simply to be turned down on the basis of being in penury or being poor does not meet our obligations under human rights law or indeed, where appropriate, our international obligations.”

The Conservative shadow minister, Damian Green, said during the debate: “…the fee for the new category of settlement visa dependent relative is set extremely high, at £1,680—previously, dependants applied for a settlement visa in their own right, at £585, so that is a threefold increase, which seems to suggest that the visa cost is meant to be a deterrent. Will the Minister answer that question?”

JCWI is now identifying members of the House of Lords who may raise the same concerns and call on peers to examine these extraordinarily high fees for dependent relatives.


Huge visa fee rise goes before MPs

A committee of MPs will meet on Wednesday to discuss proposed visa fees increases – which include a near three-fold like in charges for bringing an elderly relative into the UK when they need support.

JCWI has spent this morning lobbying MPs and providing them with  a briefing and legal opinion which warns the new fees could stop the poor and destitute enjoying their human right to a family life. More information can be found on this blog HERE.

We are asking our supporters to email members of the committee asking them to consider the points made by JCWI before reaching a decision. Ultimately, we would like the fees to be dropped for people who cannot afford them.

This would ensure the Government met its obligations under human rights law. It would also encourage overstayers to apply for leave to remain and therefore become regularised.

The letter can be sent via email to the committee chairman  Nigel Evans MP. We also suggest sending it to the committee members who are most likely to be sympathetic to our arguments.

These include Lib Dem Dr Evan Harris as he sits on the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and Labour MP Julie Morgan who was assistant director of Barnardo’s and voted against cuts in disability benefits.

Dear …,

I write today to ask urgently that you consider voting against the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations 2010 which will go to committee on Wednesday.

We are concerned that the Government is raising money by increasing fees for visas for dependent relatives.

We note that JCWI has real concerns about the compatibility of these regulations with the Human Rights Act on account of the limited power to waive in country immigration fees.

We believe that the absence of any power to waive in country immigration fees for overstayers seeking to regularise their stay leads to an absurd position where they are unable to do this. This is inconsistent with an effective system of immigration control and positively militates against it.

 Finally,  the above difficulties make the three-fold increase in fees for dependent relatives, and the introduction of fees for dependant particularly problematic, with the latter having discriminatory impacts upon women, and those from developing countries.


We ask that the Human Rights Act be considered with regard to the implementation of the current fees regime.

We believe that the fee increases represent a tax on the most desperate and will be deeply unpopular with the public at a time when there is still much concern about the amount claimed in expenses by MPs during very difficult economic times.

Yours sincerely,


Members of Committee debating fees regulations

Just another quick update on this, we’ve set out the Committee members who will be debating the fees regulations together with their interests for you in the table below should you wish to contact them.

e Title Party Interests  
         
Mr Nigel Evans Committee Chairman Lib Dem    
Margaret Beckett Housing and planning minister Labour Former foreign secretary. First woman to be president of the board of trade  
Richard Caborn Ambassador for 2018 world cup   Former sports minister. Set up Regional Development Agencies. Supported the ANC, the miners’ strike, and Tony Benn. Will stand down at election  
Damian Green Shadow Immigration Minister Conservatives    
Evan Harris   Lib Dem Jewish South African parents. A member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Former shadow roles include education and science. Vice-president of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association. vice chairman of the groups on refugees, malaria, AIDS ice chairman of the groups on refugees, malaria, AIDS etc  
Tom Harris Labour Was Parli-Under-Sec Transport Unison member. Former NUJ. Blogger  
Chris Huhne Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary    
Bernard Jenkin Conservative   (Expenses scandal: ordered to repay £63,000) Was Shadow Defence Secretary and Shadow Energy Minister  
Bob Laxton Labour Will stand down at next election During the 2001 Parliament he served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Alan Johnson  
Martin Linton Labour   Former Mail, FT and Guardian journalist. Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East  
Steve McCabe Labour   Labour Party whip  
Chris McCafferty 

(female)

Labour   Was a case worker for Calderdale Well Women Centre, which includes domestic violence counselling 

http://www.calderdalewomen.org.uk/

Has sat on the International Development Committee.

 
Anne Main Conservative   Member of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, Communities and Local Government Committee, Advisory Committee on Works of Art  
Julie Morgan Labour   Former social worker and assistant director of Barnardo’s. Rebelled against controversial cuts in benefit for disabled people. Led a demonstration of “Labour Women Against War” in Cardiff city centre. An active member of the PLP Women’s Group. Has supported campaigns for refugee children.  
Brooks Newmark (male) Opposition Foreign Affairs Whip Conservative Has asked parliamentary questions about rape and domestic violence convictions, human trafficking, forced marriage.  
Hugo Swire Hon. Secretary of the Conservative Middle East Council Conservative Sacked as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for suggesting museums would not be free. Chairman of the All Party United Arab Emirates Group and Treasurer of the All Party Oman Group  
Phil Woolas Immigration Minister Labour    

 

k update on this.


Fees update

Just a quick update on this issue.  W have been told by the UKBA that The Immigration and Nationality Fees Regulations 2010 are due to be debated in the Commons on 24 th February although the members of the Commitee that will debate the provisions have not as yet been selected.  Will update as soon we have their details.


A mild state of disbelief…

If like us you’ve been looking at the UKBA’s new fees proposals, then no doubt you will be in a mild state of disbelief. You too presumably would have undergone a process of checking, rechecking, and then checking again (with the aid of a highlighter and a ruler) the small table that comes attached to the latest correspondence from the UK Border Agency about fees for immigration applications.

Basically UKBA are proposing yet further immigration application/nationality fee increases.  There’s nothing surprising about that in itself, but what it is both surprising and disconcerting  at the same time are the proposals to almost triple the fees that ‘dependent relatives’ will pay for visa and settlement purposes. This is the immigration route that dependent elderly parents and grandparents living alone in unsatisfactory conditions in circumstances where their sponsor is settled in the UK will come through.

The proposal for ‘dependant relatives’ is for visa fees to be increased from £585.00 to £1680.00, and for the cost of making a settlement applications to rise from £820 to £1680.00, or £1930 (applications made at the Public Enquiry Office) with what seems like an additional fee of £213.00 or £238.00 (PEO applications) in the case of an in person for each additional dependant.

Additionally it’s proposed that the UKBA will introduce a separate fee for the dependants (who tend overwhelmingly to be female) of pricipal applicants in the UK who apply for further leave to remain or settlement.  The fee will be 10 % of the cost of the main application. On this basis you can expect a family of 5 applying to settle in the UK paying somewhere in the region of £1227.00 for this purpose. 

Clearly if these regulations are passed many people who might otherwise fulfil the legal criteria for entry/on-going residence, will simply be unable to remain or enter the UK. Quite apart from these measures being contrary to the principle of rule of law, and generating a variety of concerns from the point of view of the right to enjoyment of private and family without discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights, it is of course spectacularly retrogressive to target elderly people living in poor conditions who desperately need care and support  by their relatives in this way.

What can you do?

These proposals can be found in the Draft Immigration and Nationality Fees Regulations 2010.  They need to be approved both by the House of Commons and the House of Lords before they become law. Only those MP’s who are actually appointed to the parliamentary Committee looking at these regulations may vote in the House of Commons on whether the regulations should pass or not. In contrast, this will just be dealt with on the floor of the House of Lords. 

No date has as yet been set for these purposes, nor is there as yet an appointed Committee. We  will be updating our blog with details about this so that you can contact relevant parliamentarians to raise your concerns. In the mean-time it is worth contacting your own MP .  If you are a member of a trade union you should raise these concerns with your union representatives.

Follow the link below for UKBA’s letter outlining the  fees structure:

UKBA Stakeholder letter re: Charging for Immigration and Nationality Services 2010-11


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