“We are broke, but we are not broken” – immigration fee increases: an update

Legal Updates | Solidarity

Since we posted our legal update on the massive increases to immigration fees on 14 July 2023, we have seen huge engagement on the issue. Our blog post received many comments from people who are angry at these proposed changes, and at what they will mean for our communities. 

Those directly affected by these proposed fee increases are calling on the government to make a U-turn on this issue. We stand with them, and we will continue to amplify our community’s voices until their demands are met.

Firstly, we urge you to read this statement by an Action Group of lived experience campaigners at Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, written by people on the 10 year route to settlement. They name this policy for what it is: exploitation. They point out the injustice in the government’s plans to increase fees by over £5,000 during a cost of living crisis. 

They write: ‘We are not the government’s cash machine – we are broke, but we are not broken and we demand the government does the right thing – pay our public sector workers fairly and make a u-turn on the visa fees exploitation’.

Praxis has produced a full breakdown of the proposed fee increases here. It has highlighted how these changes are likely to have the very worst impacts on people who are already in the UK. There are those who have been saving for years, and those who will not be able to afford this massive increase. CEO of Praxis Sally Daghlian spoke on these ‘eye-watering’ increases on LBC, which you can watch here.

A petition created by Juliana Santiago Lôbo Facanha is asking the government to reconsider its decision. Juliana is a Brazilian national living in the UK with her family on a work visa. You can read Juliana’s full statement here.

Juliana rightly points out that the fees are ‘already an extortionate burden on individuals who hold temporary visas, with no access to public funds’. The petition needs to reach 10,000 signatures for the government to respond. 

Right to Remain are proud to have signed this joint statement against these proposed immigration fee increases, by a collection of migrant justice and trade unions. They highlight the bonds of solidarity that exist between migrant workers and trade union members, with their statement that ‘an injury to one is an injury to all‘.

You can read the joint statement, and the full list of signatories below.

As trade unions and migrant organisations, we stand against this Government’s attempts to pit worker against worker. We know that an injury to one is an injury to all.

All workers deserve decent pay, safe working conditions and protections if our bosses seek to take advantage of us. Public sector workers deserve pay rises, but we strongly oppose any decision to fund this by further taxing migrants, by hiking visa costs and NHS fees. This is a blatant attempt to sow division within the labour movement and our communities. 

Increasing the Immigration Health Surcharge by 66% and increasing visa costs will push ever more people into destitution and poverty. The UK already effectively taxes migrants twice for healthcare, and has some of the most extortionate visa fees in Europe – a migrant family of four often has to pay around £50,000 over 10 years for the right to stay. This massive increase is simply unaffordable – it will price workers out of being able to afford a visa and force thousands further into poverty during the cost of living crisis, or out of the country.

Migrant workers are a vital part of our communities and our workforce. They are the backbone of our public services, and our migrant members already face the hostility of the immigration system. No worker should be pushed into poverty, unsustainable debt or homelessness simply because of the papers they hold.

We urge the Government to abandon its plans to increase NHS and visa fees for migrants and meet the pay demands of our public sector workers through progressive taxation which ensures those with the broadest shoulders contribute more to our vital public services.  

Signatories of the statement:

  1. British Medical Association 
  2. The GMB 
  3. NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union 
  4. The National Education Union (NEU) 
  5. Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)
  6. UCU – University and College Union
  7. Society of Radiologists
  8. Social Workers Union 
  9. Fire Brigades Union (FBU) 
  10. ASLEF 
  11. BFAWU
  12. International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)
  13. TEFL Workers’ Union (IWW)
  14. Asylum Matters
  15. Black Europeans 
  16. Bradford Rape Crisis
  17. CARAG 
  18. CARIS Haringey
  19. Caritas Shrewsbury
  20. Centrala 
  21. Doctors of the World 
  22. Duhra Solicitors
  23. English for Action (EFA) London
  24. Evesham Vale Welcomes Refugees 
  25. Fresh Grassroots Rainbow Community 
  26. Focus on Labour Exploitation: FLEX
  27. Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
  28. Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU)
  29. Haringey Welcome
  30. Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
  31. Kent Refugee Help
  32. Kiran Support services
  33. Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)
  34. Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network (LRMN)
  35. Leeds Anti-Raids Action
  36. Maternity Action
  37. Maternity Stream, City of Sanctuary UK
  38. Medact
  39. Migrants At Work
  40. Migrant Democracy Project
  41. Migrant Voice
  42. Migrants Organise
  43. Migrants’ Rights Network
  44. Music Action International
  45. Pan-African Workers Association (PAWA)
  46. Paul Hamlyn Foundation 
  47. POMOC (Polish Migrants Organise for Change)
  48. Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS)
  49. Praxis
  50. Project 17
  51. Public Interest Law Centre
  52. RAMA (Refugee, Asylum seeker & Migrant Action)
  53. Refugee and Migrants Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL)
  54. Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Action (RAMA)
  55. Reunite Families UK
  56. Right to Remain
  57. Runnymede Trust
  58. Seraphus
  59. South London Refugee Association
  60. South Yorkshire Refugee Law & Practice 
  61. The Unity Project
  62. The Voice of Domestic Workers
  63. United impact
  64. We Belong 
  65. Welsh Refugee Council
  66. Women’s Budget Group
  67. Yorkshire Migrants Solidarity Movement
  68. The3million

Share our thread on Twitter, and use the hashtag #TogetherAgainstCharging. Let’s amplify our message, and stand together in our opposition to this cruel policy.

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