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Following outrage earlier this year when the Home Office revealed plans to charge visa applicants to contact their support service, there has been fresh criticism directed at application fees. reported this week that the Home Office is making profits of up to 800% on some visa applications, and the margins are so lucrative that there is an incentive to reject applications to prompt repeat applications.
According to the Guardian, after crunching the numbers available on the Home Office website, they noticed a discrepancy between the cost of processing applications and the fees charged. The example given in the article is an application for indefinite leave to remain for a vulnerable adult dependent relative. Since April, this has incurred a cost of £3,250 per applicant, but it costs the Home Office just £423 to process the application. This means that the application costs 688% more to apply that it costs to process.
The majority of the visas listed in the Home Office’s figures cost much more to apply for that they cost to process. This has sparked speculation that this would offer a financial incentive to reject initial applications on technicalities as this would force applicants to submit a new application and pay the same fee again.
When asked for a comment on the inflated visa fees, the home office commented that the high fees were “only right”. The department was hit with 24.9% cuts to its annual budget and asked to outline a further 6% of cuts. This has prompted concern that some applications may be turned down on technicalities so that applicants will be forced to pay again. The Home Office has argued that the inflated fees are in order to ease the burden on the taxpayer to control the border. They also cite the cost of operating the citizenship and immigration application system in areas that are not backed by any funding.
This isn’t the first time that the Home Office has come under fire for controversial fees. In June of this year, contractors Sitel UK took control of the customer enquiries service for all UK visas. The company reduced the number of languages that were available as part of the customer enquiries service and also introduced a fee to contact the Home Office customer service by phone or email.