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UK visa fee hike for visitors, students to be effective from October 4

LONDON: The British government on Saturday announced that a proposed increase in visa fees will go into effect on October 4. Under the new fee structure, a visit visa for a stay of less than six months will cost GBP 15 more, and student visas will see a GBP 127 increase for travelers worldwide, including those from India. The UK Home Office confirmed that these changes, introduced through legislation in Parliament on Friday, will result in the cost of a visit visa for less than six months rising to GBP 115. Additionally, the fee for applying for a student visa from outside the UK will increase to GBP 490, matching the amount charged for in-country applications. This adjustment follows the announcement made by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in July that visa fees and health surcharges, which contribute to the UK’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS), would rise significantly to accommodate increases in public sector wages. “We are going to increase the charges that we have for migrants who are coming to this country when they apply for visas and indeed something called the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is the levy that they pay to access the NHS,” he said at the time. “All of those fees are going to go up and that will raise over GBP 1 billion, so across the board visa application fees are going to go up significantly and similarly for the IHS,” he said. The Home Office has indicated a 15% increase in the cost of most work and visit visas and an increase of at least 20% in the cost of priority visas, study visas, and certificates of sponsorship. “Income from fees charged plays a vital role in the Home Office’s ability to run a sustainable immigration and nationality system. Careful consideration is given when setting fees to help reduce the funding contribution from British taxpayers, whilst continuing to provide a service that remains attractive to those wishing to work in the UK and support broader prosperity for all,” the Home Office said this week. The fee hike applies across most visa categories, including health and care visas, applications to register and naturalize as a British citizen, fees for visas of varying durations (up to six months, two, five, and ten years), and fees for entry clearance and certain applications for leave to remain in the UK, such as those for work and study, indefinite leave to enter and remain, as well as fees related to certificates of sponsorship and confirmation of acceptance for studies. These changes are subject to parliamentary approval and are expected to take effect on October 4, as per the Home Office’s announcement.