In a shocking move, Britain has decided to significantly hike visa fees. This move is being carried out to bridge a fifty million pound gap in the UK budget. A great disparity between the expenditure and income has led to the generation of this wide chasm in the budget. Based on expert predictions, the wide hole of 50 million pounds, coupled with ever rising inflation, could mean a hike in visa fees by a whopping 4 per cent!
This announcement comes hot on the heels after the home secretary had to back down on compulsory visa bail bonds worth 3000 pounds for visitors from select countries. This visa bonds scheme was introduced as a “surety” to ensure people from six “high-risk” commonwealth countries don’t overstay their visa. It was proposed that the bonds would be refunded when the person returned, but would be forfeited if the person chose to stay beyond their visa. This was applicable for India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Ghana. The issue naturally caused an international furore and impacted relations between countries. International pressure eventually forced Britain to back down and the scheme was not implemented.
The proposed hike in visa fees comes at a time when the British government is looking to increase inflow of students and immigrants from other countries. These goals could be severely impacted if the visa fee is indeed hiked. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been trying to boost entry of businessmen and students from India and China. He has even announced premium fast track elite visa services for visitors from these countries. People who opt for these services will be provided with a detailed account manager to walk them through the visa and immigration process. What’s more, these individuals will obtain their visa on the same day as their application. Of course, all this is available for the ‘right price’!
All these moves are seen as part of the government’s drive to reduce immigration into the United Kingdom. They want to regulate the influx of individuals into the country. Their goal is to reduce it from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. The Home Office of course denies this and simply claims to be trying to relieve the tax paying individuals burdens. A Home Office spokesperson said: “Visa fees are increasing because we are reducing the cost of the immigration system to the taxpayer. Immigrants and visitors should contribute their fair share to the system. The Home Office — like the government overall — is performing well in cutting spending while protecting and improving services.”
What remains to be seen is how this hike in visa fees will actually affect the entry of people into Britain. Analysts predict that though there might be an immediate drop in the number of immigrants into the United Kingdom, this proposed visa fee hike will have little to no effect in the long run. The immediate impact will also most likely not be very severe, and will tide over pretty soon.