March 17, 2018

NEW Immigration, Visa and Nationality Fee’s 2018-19

Just received a letter from the UKVI, Fri 16/03/2018

Dear colleague,

Legislation was laid in Parliament today, (16 March) which sets out a number of changes to immigration, visa and nationality fees. These changes will come into effect on 6 April 2018.
Careful consideration is given to individual fees to help reduce the funding contribution from UK taxpayers, whilst continuing to provide and invest in a service that remains attractive to our customers and competitive with other countries.
The key changes are outlined below.
• Increased fees on growth routes (work, study and visit) by 4%.
• Increased fees on most non-growth routes (nationality, settlement, family) and most associated premium services by 4%.
• The fee for the overseas optional ‘Priority Visa’ service for entry clearance will increase by 15%.
• For the fourth year running, we are not making any changes to fees under the sponsorship system.
• Fees for entry clearance to enter the Channel Islands and Isle of Man will rise in line with fee changes seen in the rest of the UK.

A full list of the new fees can be found on
If you have any queries regarding the fee changes, or would like to discuss any particular areas of interest, please contact:

Yours sincerely,
Richard Hornby
Director of Finance

March 8, 2018

EU citizens’ rights during transition

The European Union has offered Britain a status quo transition until the end of 2020 after Brexit. The bloc wants its three million citizens in Britain to remain eligible for all the same rights until the end of that period.
The EU/UK’s 8 December 2017 Joint Report on the UK’s “orderly withdrawal from the European Union” has laid out various points of agreement on Citizens’ Rights, including the need for EU nationals in the UK and British citizens in EU27 member states before 29 March 2019 to register for a temporary or, subject to eligibility, settled status after that date. Freedom of movement for those arriving before the cut off date would be protected.

Whilst the Joint Report includes the caveat that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, it does provide a degree of certainty for UK employers in terms of EU nationals arriving in the UK before Brexit day next March.
Theresa May had cheered Brexiteers in January when she declared there would be a “clear difference” for EU migrants who arrived after March 2019 and only those who arrived before could “continue their life” in the UK. It took ministers and businesses by surprise and was rejected by the EU, which warned it could jeopardise the transition period, which the government wants agreed in the March EU council.
Yesterday ministers confirmed they were abandoning Mrs May’s position,

Threfore, the status of those EU nationals arriving during the Transition Period after March 2019, remains controversial.

The UK Home Office’s leaked paper on the future of its UK immigration policies of September 2017 (the official version was due in Autumn 2017 but is yet to be released) floated the idea of registration for around only 2 years for those EU nationals filling lower skilled roles and those filling higher skilled being able to stay longer for say up to 5 years. This would be a stark change from the current largely unrestricted freedom of movement. The UK was adamant that there has to be a different expectation for those arriving before and after the UK’s exit from the EU. As recently as Theresa May’s trip to China at the start of February, she was very clear on this point.

However, on 7 February 2018 the EU released its latest negotiation position paper “Transitional arrangements in the withdrawal agreement”. This paper included reference to the EU’s wish for 31 December 2020 to be the end date of the implementation period to coincide with the end of the EU budget year and so falling short of the UK’s plans for a two year transition/implementation period.

Importantly, the EU’s paper also demanded that the status quo should be maintained during the implementation period including full freedom of movement, no new trade agreements with non EU 27 and continued submission to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice without the UK having any legislative input in this period, in Jacob Rees Mogg’s words, making the UK “a vassal state”. The EU makes clear that Citizens’ Rights are “not negotiable” and that there cannot be “two sets of rights for EU citizens”, one for those arriving before and another after 29 March 2019.

Despite the UK’s strong previous position that it would set its own agenda, the UK’s own negotiation position paper (proposing amendments for discussion to the EU’s own paper) of 21 February 2018 was conspicuous by the absence of any meaningful ‘pushback’ on the EU’s demands for freedom of movement of EU nationals to continue unabated during the implementation period.

In fact, the only noticeable retort in the UK’s paper was a meek request for the December 2020 implementation period end date to be discussed in view of whether it is long enough – given the UK has always been planning for two years from March 2019. These are only draft papers and the game is a long way from finishing, but it is hard to ignore a potential softening of the UK’s position on free movement for those EU nationals arriving in the UK after March 2019 next year. For those employers relying heavily on European nationals, this would be a welcome development.

Poured on top of the UK’s apparent poor negotiating position is, according to some news outlets, the government’s own analysis that the cost of cutting EU migration would exceed any gains from, for example, any new UK/US trade agreement.

Complete capitulation to the EU 27 bloc on all issues would not sit easily with the Brexiteers within the Conservative party. This raises the prospect of an unholy alliance between Conservative Brexiteers and elements of the Labour party to vote down any Agreement ultimately brought to Parliament. This in turn raises the possibility of the dreaded scenario of the UK leaving the EU without Agreement. A recipe for complete chaos.

As the negotiations progress and we near the UK’s exit in just 12 months time, we will continue to provide you with updates

February 20, 2018

Home Office to Double NHS Surcharge to £400

The government has announced that the annual healthcare surcharge will be doubled from £200 to £400. The NHS surcharge is payable by any non-EU migrants who are coming to the UK for 6 months or longer. For a non-EU spouse of a British citizen applying from outside the UK for a 30-month fiance visa, the applicant would be charged £600 on top of the £1,464 visa fee. When the changes are implemented, this will rise to £1,200.

The discounted scheme for students and individuals applying for the youth mobility scheme will also double from £150 to £300. This means that non-EU students applying for a study visa will now face a £900 NHS charge for a three-year course.

The increase will raise an additional £220m a year for the NHS, which is struggling to cope with budget cuts. Ministers said that the increase in NHS surcharge contributions would ensure that migrants put in a “fair contribution” towards the healthcare system. However, it has been criticised as it may negatively impact the NHS by making it more difficult to recruit overseas workers.

These changes aren’t as steep as the Conservatives initially promised, as their 2017 manifesto outlined plans to triple the NHS surcharge. This charge is often linked to the issue of “health tourism”, where people come to the UK, usually for a short time, to access NHS services and then leave. However, the charge will only be applicable to people applying for a visa for longer than 6 months, so it is unlikely to impact health tourism.

In 2016, the government paid £674m to countries throughout Europe for healthcare but only received £49m in return. According to the fact-checking website Full Fact, health tourism only took up about 0.3% of the entire NHS budget for the year.

Health minister, James O’Shaughnessy said: “Our NHS is always there when you need it, paid for by British taxpayers. We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but it is only right that they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability. By increasing the surcharge so that it better reflects the actual costs of using health services, this government is providing an extra £220m a year to support the NHS.”