The UK Home Office has recently made two announcements. The first is in relation to the government’s proposals to change the fees charged for UK visa applications and the second relates to the Home Office extending their online support service for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) who need to recruit skilled overseas workers.
UK Government Proposes Changes to UK Visa Immigration Fees & Charging
Last week, the written ministerial statement in relation to UK immigration fees and charging was laid in the House of Commons by the Immigration Minster Mark Harper and in the House of Lords by Lord Taylor of Holbeach. These changes are in relation to the fees charged for visas, immigration and nationality applications and associated premium services. If these changes are approved by Parliament, the new fees will apply from April 2014. Some fees for premium services overseas will apply from 31 March 2014.
Proposed Changes Improve UK Visa Services for Applicants
The Home Office has reported that the proposals increase most fees by 4% including short term visit visa and will allow them to improve their customer service and enable them to offer the following premium services:
- A 3-5 days priority visa service costing £100;
- A priority settlement application service for a fee of £300;
- A super priority visa service for £600, which will expedite the application process to the shortest period possible;
- Appointments outside of office hours for a fee of £50; and
- Offering a passport passback service at more locations, which will be charged at £40 per applicant.
Extension of Online Support Service for UK Businesses
Last year in September, we reported that UK Visas & Immigration (formerly part of UKBA) joined in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and launched a 3 month pilot to provide online support to SME’s. The online pilot has now been extended and will now end on 28 February 2014.
The scheme is aimed at SME’s who need to recruit skilled international employees to help build their business and a toolkit of information has been made available through GLA’s website. The toolkit includes a simple overview of the process of sponsoring an overseas worker, a best practice guide and some frequently asked questions with access to expert help from the Home Office for complex or queries.