In 2019, the High Court found that the Home Office’s fee of £1,012 for registering child citizenship is unlawful. I believe this fee is still in place and is being charged for children who are already entitled to citizenship. I agree with Amnesty International that this is an example of shameless profiteering by the Home Office.
This demonstrates the general unaffordability of immigration and nationality application fees charged by the Home Office. For example, the fee for a leave to remain visa stands at over £1,000. An application for indefinite leave to remain is £2,389. Add to that the cost of processing the applications, paperwork and biometrics, all outsourced to private companies, and the cost of an indefinite leave to remain visa is easily over £3,000. That is not considering the immigration health surcharge that applicants must also pay, even if they have been paying taxes and national insurance in the UK already.
Naturalisation costs are also extremely onerous, costing over £1,300. Nationality registration for an adult costs over £1,200. To make matters worse, these application fees are non-refundable, meaning that if an application is unsuccessful for whatever reason, that applicant stands to lose a significant amount of money. Readmission means making the same payment again.
It is clear to anyone that such an expensive and complex fee structure for visas is part of the Government’s continued operation of a hostile environment for immigrants. The fees make applications unaffordable for many people, essentially deterring them from making applications. In my view, they are not only an example of shameless profiteering by the Home Office, but also a crude attempt to suppress applications to reduce immigration to the UK.
It is about time that the Home Office takes the matter seriously and considers its fee structure for immigration and nationality fees. A good place to start would be to recognise the High Court’s ruling on the unlawfulness of registration fees for child nationality and immediately establish a refund policy for those fees. This should be the beginning of a root-and-branch reform of the visa and nationality application fee structure, with the aim of making visa applications more affordable for all migrants and citizens of this country.