I am pleased to see that the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration is calling for evidence for an inquiry into the impact of Home Office fees. In recent years, fees for some Home Office applications have increased by over 400%.
The Home Office routinely charge far more for processing applications than they cost. According to Home Office data, an application for indefinite leave to remain in 2016 cost £434 to process and carried a fee of £1875. At the time, the Home Office was making a healthy 400% mark up on each application they processed. By 2018, the unit cost had gone down to £243 per application but the application fee had increased to £2389; a whopping 1000% mark up. This fee is charged per person so a family of four would pay just over £9500. Similarly, the unit cost for British citizenship applications is £372 for adults and children but adults are charged £1330 and children £1012.
Put bluntly, the Home Office are making a healthy profit on each application they process.
The Home Office argue that they fund the immigration system by using paid applications to subsidise areas such as asylum casework which are not charged.
It is however hard to see how profiting from immigration applications to an excessive extent can continue to be justified.
It is also hard to see how people can find fees at this level without putting themselves in financial difficulty. People are however given a stark choice, find the fees or become an overstayer and face removal from the UK. I also continue to be concerned about the increases in fees for registration applications for children which could prevent those who are entitled to British Citizenship from securing this status.
It will be interesting to read the outcome of David Bolt's inquiry. I hope that this will result in a reduction of fees to, at the very least, reflect the unit cost, and better yet to be set at a fair and affordable level.
MPs and campaigners have called for urgent action to reduce Home Office fees as the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration launches an inquiry into the charges. David Bolt issued a call for evidence as he started work on an inspection of the Home Office’s charging for asylum, immigration, nationality and customs services. Bolt said it would look at the rationale for the fees, including the amounts charged.