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UNITED KINGDOM: Home Office Immigration & Nationality Services Fee Changes

On February 3, 2014, the Home Office announced proposals for fee changes for visas and immigration and nationality applications effective April 6, 2014. In addition, new fees for premium services overseas will be effective one week earlier.

The majority of fees will increase 4%. Significantly, the 25% discount applied to dependents' fees when submitting an application at the same time as the main applicant will be removed. This represents a considerable increase for employers sponsoring migrants with several dependents. The increase will make applications for indefinite leave to remain particularly costly; the new fee of £1,093 will apply to the main applicant and each dependent. Application fees for a family of 4 thus will total more than £4,000.

For Tier 2 applications, the fee rises a modest 4%, from £494 to £514 for overseas applications and from £578 to £601 for those made within the United Kingdom.

Of particular interest is the announcement that new rules will be introduced to enable Tier 2 applicants to apply for entry clearance or leave to remain for up to 5 years, but this comes with a hefty price tag: £1,028 for overseas applicants and £1,202 for those applying within the UK. The same fee also applies for each dependent. This will be a significant up-front cost for employers sponsoring long-term migrants, although it will remove the need to submit an extension application after 3 years, as is the case under the current arrangements.

The fee to submit an application in person at a Premium Service Centre (known as Public Enquiry Offices until April 1) will rise from £375 to £400, in addition to the standard application fee. The priority postal fee will rise from £275 to £300.

Under the Registered Traveller scheme for frequent business visitors, a yearly fee of £50 will be introduced following a successful pilot.

Outside the UK, the Home Office will expand the number of premium services, which are currently only available in a limited number of countries. The Home Office also is introducing a global fee for services that are currently charged at local rates. A fee of £100 for a 3- to 5-day priority visa service and a similar service for settlement applications will also be available, for a fee of £300. The availability of a super priority visa service will be expanded; for a fee of £600, the visa application will usually be decided within 24 hours.

The passport pass-back service will also be rolled out to more locations to enable applicants to hold onto their passports for most of the application process to facilitate travel. The fee for this will be £40 per applicant.

There are a number of fee reductions, notably in the fee for a Sponsor Licence application, to £1476. Also Tier 2 shortage occupations fees are reduced to £428 for both overseas applicants and in-country applicants.

The new fee schedule and additional information is available in Minister for Immigration Mark Harper's February 3 announcement.

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