A consultation conducted by the Home Office last year has found that many people would welcome changes to the UK visa fee structure currently in place.
The consultation was published in November and ran for three weeks, during which time the public delivered their views on the charging system in place for UK visas and immigration services. Among the topics addressed were options for simplifying the fee structure; changes to fee levels; the possible introduction of optional and premium services and the wider impact of changes to the service.
The responses proved enlightening and showed that many people would be open to change. For example, the feedback suggested that a simplified visa fee structure would be welcomed by the public, while the introduction of more premium services would also be a positive change, providing more choice and convenience.
Mark Harper, minister of state for immigration, published his comments on the findings along with the report. He explained that around half of the £1.75 billion it costs each year to maintain the immigration system comes from fees, making this an important area to monitor, especially given that the coalition has pledged to cut at least £450 million from this cost by finding savings and efficiencies, reducing support costs and boosting productivity.
Harper added that proposals put forward through this consultation will be balanced with other feedback to help improve the system: “We want to make sure that the charging framework as a whole contributes sustainably towards the costs of running the immigration and border system.
“We will therefore keep the framework under review, especially given the current pressures on public finances.”