Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
Sunak's announcement could raise the new fee for applying for a student visa from outside the UK by £127, bringing the total cost to £490. JESSICA TAYLOR/UK PARLIAMENT via AFP

The British government has recently unveiled plans to increase visa fees, with changes set to come into effect from October 4. These adjustments will affect a wide range of visa categories, including visit visas and student visas, as the government aims to generate additional revenue to support essential services in the UK.

From October 4, individuals applying for visit visas valid for under six months will experience a price hike of £15. This means that the new cost for a visit visa in this category will be £115. The decision to increase fees for visit visas has raised concerns among those planning to visit friends and family in the UK or explore its rich cultural heritage.

International students, who have long been attracted to the UK for its world-renowned educational institutions, will also face higher costs. The fee for applying for a student visa from outside the UK will rise by £127, bringing the total cost to £490. This adjustment aligns the fee with the amount charged for in-country student visa applications, which were already more expensive than their counterparts abroad.

Reasons Behind the Fee Hike

This decision to raise visa fees follows an announcement by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in July. He stated that fees and health surcharges for visa applicants would increase significantly. The additional funds generated through these fee increases will contribute to financing the UK's state-funded National Health Service (NHS) and supporting wage increases in the public sector.

Prime Minister Sunak explained: "We are going to increase the charges for migrants coming to this country when applying for visas and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)... this will raise over £1 billion."

The move appears to be part of the government's broader strategy to bolster the NHS and invest in the public sector.

The Home Office has outlined a 15 per cent increase in the cost of most work and visit visas. Additionally, priority visas, study visas and certificates of sponsorship will see their fees rise by at least 20 per cent. This substantial increase across various visa categories has raised concerns among stakeholders and applicants alike.

Commenting on the expected revenue from the visa fee hike, the Home Office revealed: "Income from fees charged plays a vital role in our ability to run a sustainable immigration and nationality system."

It further stressed the fees' crucial role in maintaining attractive services without burdening British taxpayers.

The Home Office emphasised that income generated from visa fees plays a crucial role in sustaining the immigration and nationality system in the UK. The fees are carefully considered to minimise the financial burden on British taxpayers while ensuring that the UK remains an attractive destination for individuals seeking to work, study, or visit the country.

The fee hike applies to a wide range of visa categories, including health and care visas, applications for British citizenship registration and naturalisation, as well as fees for visit visas with durations of up to six months, two years, five years and 10 years.

These changes also extend to fees related to entry clearance and specific applications for leave to remain in the UK. This includes applications for work and study, fees for indefinite leave to enter and indefinite leave to remain, as well as fees associated with certificates of sponsorship and confirmation of acceptance for studies.

It's important to note that these fee increases are currently pending parliamentary approval. Assuming they are approved, the changes will take effect from October 4. The UK Home Office has been proactive in ensuring that visa applicants and stakeholders are aware of these upcoming adjustments.