The Home Office in 2017/2018 alone has raised £1.5 billion in visa and immigration income of which £500 million are believed to be profits. This begs the question on the necessity of the obscene Home Office fees being imposed on applicants as part of the UK Home Office Hostile Environment Policy. In fact, many foreigners are unaware of the UK’s Home Office Hostile Environment Policy as they seek to further their life in the UK.
So what is the UK Home Office Hostile Environment Policy?
- In 2012, Theresa May as Home Secretary had introduced this policy with “the aim to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants”.
- It is a set of administrative rules designed to make staying in the UK as difficult as possible for people without the ‘leave to remain’ in the hopes of encouraging voluntary departures from the UK. Through the implementation of this policy it also further complicated the application process of getting ‘leave to remain’.
However, one must wonder as to the possible reasons behind this. These self funded fees for immigration and nationality applications have steadily risen since 2010 under the “hostile environment” policy and that includes the latest round of changes in April.
The Home Office had in fact, made profits of up to 800% on some immigration applications from families with fees rising steadily above inflation over the years.
Many campaigners are of the opinion that the system has been designed to make money to which the Home Office had vehemently denied stressing that immigration fees provide necessary resources and reduces the burden on UK taxpayers, but have they forgotten that many migrants are also UK taxpayers?
According to Habib Ali of 121 Immigration lawyers:
“The costs of applications for visas are extremely disproportionate. The Home Office in its bid to enforce the hostile environment policy has taken questionable steps in its bid to facilitate these applications by outsourcing them to private firms such as Sopra Steria who offers very costly unnecessary supplemental services when they may be particularly vulnerable. In actual fact, the cost being paid by migrants for the processing of their applications far exceeds the actual costs incurred by the Home Office for doing so.
In this modern time and age, where digital technology is utilised in everything, the application process for visas should be easier, cheaper and faster yet the Home Office has time and time again increased the costs for migrants in their respective applications over the years.”
These restrictions and exorbitant fees imposed on migrants present a huge struggle for many. Take spouse visa applicants as an example; the Home Office fees in respect of their application would be £1,500 and an additional £1,200 for immigration health surcharges but the cost for the government to process this visa is estimated to be around the region of £423. In 2010 alone, the fees for UK spouse visa stood around the region of £400-500. These huge hikes paid by applicants are clearly unjustified considering the actual costs incurred by the government to do so.
Ultimately, the timely review of the Immigration policies by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson in his first week hopefully signals an upturn of events for these high costs and for the immigration system as a whole and as Stephen Doughty, a Labour MP, said: “Given the repeated shambles in the Home Office over a series of immigration processes, let alone the widening scandal over highly skilled migrants, many people will rightly ask whether the Home Office provides value for money to individual citizens and applicants. Fees and charges being made by the Home Office should be reviewed. It is never acceptable for them to make a profit on these crucial activities.”