Huge increases to immigration fees

Legal Updates | News

On 13 July 2023, the government announced it is hugely increasing immigration fees. This blog post will explain what the changes are, who they will affect, why Right to Remain opposes these changes and what we believe we should do to stop them.

The government has said it will make the following changes: 

  • The Immigration Health Surcharge will be increased from £624 a year to £1,035 per person. The Immigration Health Surcharge is essentially a form of double taxation on migrants, who already contribute to the NHS through their taxes.

  • Work and visit visa fees will be increased 15%.

  • Other visas, extensions, settlement and citizenship will be increased by 20%. This will include visa renewals for leave to remain on the 10 year route.

Who will these changes affect?

These fee increases will affect many people: our friends; our neighbours; and people in our communities. They will affect people applying for visas to come to the UK to be reunited with their family. They will affect people already living in the UK, who are working and paying taxes. Some of the people affected will work for the NHS or in other public sector roles.

Those worst affected will be migrants who are already struggling with the cost of living crisis, and the punishing effects of the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) visa condition. We see already that high visa fees force people into debt, and these increases are likely to force more families into poverty and destitution. 

What is next? 

It is likely to take a few months to bring in these fee increases. The changes will have to be made by secondary legislation (this means another law created by government ministers), and there will have to be an economic impact assessment. 

If you are worried about these fee increases and are in a position to make an earlier application, we would suggest that you consider making an application sooner.

The fee increases will also mean that more people will be eligible for a full or partial fee waiver, which is available for some applications. For example, for a visa renewal on the 10 year route, you can apply for a fee waiver for the application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. We have written a guide to making a fee waiver application yourself, which you can access here

Why has the government brought in these changes? 

As justification for these extortionate increases, the government claimed that the increase would be used to ‘fund the pay rise for doctors’ as well as other public sector pay increases

We must reflect on this statement, and explain what is wrong with it. 

Firstly, many people who currently work for the NHS, including doctors, will be negatively affected by this increase in fees. The government is attempting to pit migrants against doctors, overlooking the fact that migrants make up a huge proportion of the NHS workforce.

Secondly, this is an attempt by the government to drive a wedge between migrants and public sector workers who have been striking for better pay and conditions. It is a tactic designed to scapegoat migrants. 

Thirdly, as pointed out by Free Movement, ‘it is not clear that it is legal to increase immigration fees for the purpose of funding pay rises for public sector workers’. We welcome legal challenges to this attempt by the government to use funds in this way. 

The UK already has some of the highest immigration fees in Europe, and makes a profit on visa applications. We must resist this government’s latest cash-grabbing tactic, which will force more individuals and families into severe economic hardship.

We call on all workers and trade unions to condemn this government attempt to divide us! Stand with migrants!  


36 comments on “Huge increases to immigration fees

  1. Adam Maxted on

    My husband has lived here for 2 years which cost us just shy of £3000 for just the government fees (ecxcluding document / interview and process fees).
    Now after paying for tax and NI for 2 years already he now has to pay more money, nearly 1.5x more just to stay another 2.5 years even though we are married and he has already given back to the country.
    Just so conservatives can save the money from the billionaire / multi-millionaires again.
    This is totally unfair and they are making the middle earners suffer the most, every month.
    Is there a petition to stop this action and to make this charge be added to millionaires monthly tax bracket instead?

  2. Sam on

    Im an international student, have counted on my every penny. It is unjustice to pay twice more for switching visa to fulfil public sector’s expense!
    It is not our responsibility to pay your public staffs!
    This is an unreliable country which the goal was not attracting professional and intelligent people by giving them two_ year PSW visa, but that was a trap for us to come here and do not have another option and even the government does not facilitate the skilled worker visa route that finding a job sponser is still a great issue for us.
    So regreat to find this country a good place to come and paying more than 30000 GBP for education and living here for less than 2 years.


    • RtR on

      Thanks for your comment. We completely agree, it is outrageous that people are being treated this way. In solidarity, the Right to Remain team.

  3. Sam on

    Thanks for the valuable information. When will this rise in immigration health surcharge come into effective ( immediately or next month)

    • RtR on

      Hi Sam, thanks for your comment. It is likely to take a few months for the government to bring in the immigration health surcharge increase – so the change is not immediate.

      • Peter on

        My partner has been on the 10 year route and we are on our final application, due to be submitted by the 10 th September. We have spent over £10K in total on visa fees, solicitor fees and the Health Surcharge. I very much hope that these new fees won’t come into effect before then as we have specifically been saving for the fees which have been published by the government. These increases will cause so much hardship and are nothing more than a racist and discriminatory way of winning points with a certain type of voter. I feel embarrassed to be British sometimes.

  4. Christian Prince on

    Same as the previous comment. Absolutely scandalous that there is this double taxation. My GF paid £1800 heath surcharge 18 months a go and is due to pay again in 12 months, now likely to be higher. Despite earning a good wage and paying her NI contribution.

    What makes it worse is she has never had access to the NHS! Especially the dentist, which she has to pay privately, because there are no dentists taking on.

    It needs scrapping completely, not increasing

      • Julie Williams on

        Totally agree with you. This is absolutely outrageous and totally unfair. Surly this has to be stopped. This increase is very unsettling for people knowing that when they have to renew their visa to be able to stay with their married partners and British born children they are going to struggle as they do not have the extra monies to pay the increase, which is an unacceptable rise. I’m actually embarrassed to be British and our government do not cate at all.

  5. Anna Anikeyeva on

    My Husband is Ukrainian, has lived here 2years, worked 6days a week from day 1, we bought a house and had our gorgeous baby girl last year. Save every month for the visa and put money back to help family in these awful times. This will now put us in a position of choosing between a loan or my husband seeing his parents/baby girl seeing her grandparents in Poland! The visiting visa’s also increasing making it more expensive for family to visit us which is already difficult with the war! Visa fees are already expensive I can’t believe this government want to attempt to fix the mess it has made by charging immigrants crazy visa fees! Especially when so many are now choosing between putting their families in debt or returning to a war with! If my husband I had to go back he would not be allowed to leave until the war is finished I just can’t believe this is allowed, I can’t believe people have thought this through and come to a solution of this being ok! We need to start a petition we need to speak out the stress they cause, the lives they are allowed to affect! To make people feel they do not matter! They were “lucky” to be born here and not in a country at war or under attack daily! I love the NHS and fully support they’re being a health surcharge and expect a rise in cost along with everything else but it has to be realistic and it has to be with a realistic time frame!

  6. Hamza on

    This is outrageous.
    If one doesn’t know definition of “Modern Slavery” then just read out UK’s immigration policy. It’s unfair , it discriminates, it beaks families apart, it ruins future of bright students.
    Third world countries being pushed by IMF to increase cost of living. Most of those countries have above 95% population living below line of poverty. This means the families that are connected to British citizens would indeed prefer to reside in UK. But magic comes with a price.
    Its extortion, that leads to panic attacks and anxiety. Amount of migrants suffering mental health issues in uk is alarming.
    So basically pay thousands of pound to UK govt to come here to join your family, work like a donkey and pay your taxes. don’t you dare seek support if you ever loose job or it would mean your visa wouldn’t be extended and you d have to leave your kids and partner and go back.
    Families being put on 5-10 Years route, which means whatever you earn just pay taxes, pay remaining amount towards your rent (imagining state of uk houses and flats) buy food if you can afford it and after 2.5 years of living like a slave, you would have to beg a bank to let you a credit card or a small loan so that you can pay extortion money to the govt to stay together with your family.
    In other words pay thousands of pounds to the govt to come live a life of a slave for 10 years.
    Young students should have no excuse to study in uk , there are other good universities in other parts od world , go for a university in a country that values talent like Denmark , Canada etc. you would be treated like a human there.
    Sorry for the harsh wording but I have been through this trauma of working all year around and collect every penny to give back to uk Govt for 10 long years. Just so that I could stay with my wife and kids here. This needs to stop but I am confident that it won’t.
    Just like you heard nothing about 600 migrants that died in a fishing boat on the way to Italy, the boat was tipped upside down on purpose (as per multiple survivors statement) and the authorities watched the show of people drowning, sadly 200 out of those 600 died were women and children.
    On the other side you must have heard all over the news and on your phone and social media and radio about the submersible vehicle “Titans” impulsion accident. 5 souls were lost there but because of there social and financial status everyone knows about them.
    I would urge families to start a petition that protects migrants from being exploit by UK govt.

    • Tomo on

      I completely agree with the point that the UK government itself is promoting modern slavery (The Govt has responded they’re going forward with the increase Autumn 2023). They are tightening the screws on legal foreign immigrants while providing free housing, unlimited utility services like gas, and food vouchers to certain illegal immigrants (not all, but those who are clearly here for financial gain). I know a family who came to the UK illegally around the same time as us. This situation feels quite unjust, especially when these individuals are working illegally and sending substantial amounts (say £1k working together) back home on a weekly basis while living free on the UK taxpayers money including me.

      In contrast, I arrived legally in 2019 to pursue my Master’s degree and was fortunate enough to secure a skilled worker visa through sponsorship after I graduated. However, my three-year visa is set to expire in March 2024, and my plan was to extend it for an additional two years to become eligible for ILR. The surprising part is that the extension for just two years is now costing me £10.1k, which is even higher than what I paid over the previous three years—£9.8k. It’s making me question whether staying in the UK is still worth it.

      Similar to others who have commented, I’ve faced difficulties in obtaining a mortgage due to being considered a foreign immigrant and having to meet a 25% deposit requirement. Meanwhile, my living costs have skyrocketed—rent has gone up by 10%, and utility bills for gas and electricity have doubled, amounting to £1.7k annually. On top of that, accessing the NHS services has been a challenge, despite a few minor visits to the GP. It’s frustrating to note that despite paying the IHS surcharge, there are still additional fees like prescription costs that individuals like us, essentially cash cows, are burdened with.

      I’m thoroughly dismayed by the state of affairs in this country. The amount I’m paying could actually cover private school education for my children, and the salary prospects in the UK don’t seem particularly competitive, to be honest. At this point, I’d recommend considering other countries for studying or even short-term living. The level of service and living conditions, including issues like theft, dog poop on the street and garbage, are shockingly poor.

  7. Venkatesh Kalidoss on

    The norm is that the government has to inform 21 days before it’s implemented. Am I right?

    I have the documents for visa applications but at the moment I am travelling outside.

    Assuming today 11th Aug, Let’s say if they inform that the fee is going to increase by September 1st(21days from now) . Can I apply right before that on Aug last week and escape the visa fee increase?

    • RtR on

      Thank you for your comment Venkatesh. Yes, normally changes to the Immigration Rules come into force no sooner than 21 days after being put before Parliament. However, there are cases in which the Home Office has not followed the 21 day convention, and has introduced changes with immediate effect. At the moment the Home Office has not confirmed the implementation date, which means that the current IHS rates apply. It seems likely that they will try to implement the changes from Autumn (September) onwards. In solidarity, Right to Remain.

  8. Venkatesh Kalidoss on

    I work and I pay the taxes like other britishers which includes nhs.

    So ihs fee itself is a like double taxation. If I am worked and paying nhs through normal tax, why is that I have to pay IHS again?

    Is there a way for ihs refund if I already pay taxes through my work ?

    • RtR on

      Yes, the IHS is a form of double taxation. Unfortunately, there is no way to be refunded the fee if you have paid taxes. The only people who are exempt from the IHS are applicants for the Health and Care visa, and their dependants.

  9. Stephanie Robson Hughes on

    My husband and I may have to leave the UK because we simply can’t afford to be allowed to live here together when this happens. It will total up to around 15k by the end. How can anyone think that is okay? I’m a British NHS Dental Therapist, considering how desperate we are for dental workers and NHS workers, you’d think they wouldn’t want to force me out of my own country, but I stand with my “immigrant husband”. It breaks my heart that I might have to leave my career and family.

  10. Roman Tretyakov on

    is there any way to challenge the Government in a court on this?
    It is obvious that people on visas are taxed twice (paying NIC and IHS) which cannot be lawful even if it’s approved by Parliament.
    Do you have any lawyers who can help to submit the case and we can arrange a crowdfunding to finance their work.

    • RtR on

      Hi Roman, thanks for your comment. We have raised this question in our networks, and will share any details of a challenge if there is one. In solidarity, Right to Remain

  11. Mary Kilduff on

    Has there been any challenge to this? This is clearly double taxation. I have been inthe UK for 3 years now and am due to apply for a new visa. Thinking about having to pay 5,000 for just the IHS fee to stay another 5 years is INSANE. Especially after I’ve been paying into the NHS for years, and I don’t even use it as its impossible to use these days so I’ve gone private. I’ve no problem it coming out of my taxes but this fee is unlawful and hostile. There AT LEAST should be an exemption for those of us who have lived in the UK for over a year and paid into the NHS through employee taxes. We build lives here and its not as simple as ‘going home’. This continuous increase is just going to force more illegal immigration and is just to pit the blame of the cost of the NHS on immigrants when its mostly immigrants who work in the NHS. They are constantly complaining about a labor shortage but then do this, making it impossible for people to stay and work here. What is the point of introducing the graduate visa if you are gonna charge people over 5 grand just to stay if they actually do what the visa is designed to do, find a job that will sponsor after the 2 years.

  12. Ian Cartledge on

    My fiancé is Filipino and this year we were planning to get married in the Philippines,then start the spouse visa application process to allow her to settle in the UK.Now with these ridiculous new rules our plans are up in the air, in my view they are racist and deliberately targeting the poorer members of society, I am myself comfortably able to pay all my bills on my salary and have money left over,but these outrageous minimum salary rates proposed by this government mean i stand no chance of meeting their criteria.
    This policy is nothing more than a desperate attempt to persuade a certain kind of voter( we all know the ones) to back then, we should fight this proposed law change with every legal means at our disposal, it is already wrecking lives and will continue to do so until it’s stopped For a start, I encourage everyone to write to their MP and make them aware of our opposition to the changes.


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