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UK Visa: UK visa fee hike effective this week: How will it impact Indians?

NEW DELHI: A proposed visa fee hike by the British government will be in effect from Wednesday, making traveling to the UK expensive for people around the world, including Indians. With this, a visit visa under six months would cost £15 more and student visa, £127 more, PTI reported. The fee hike will raise the price of the visit visa under six months to £115 and that of applying for student visa to £490. Justifying the price hike, a Home Office spokesperson said, “It is right and fair to increase visa application fees so we can fund vital public services and allow wider funding to contribute to public sector pay.” It follows the July announcement by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that the fees and health surcharge paid by visa applicants toward the UK’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) would “significantly” increase in order to keep up with the nation’s public sector salary hike. “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,” Sunak had 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 had further added. The Home Office reported that the majority of work and visit visas would cost 15% more, and priority visas, study visas, and sponsorship certificates would cost at least 20% more. Criticizing the fee hike as “divisive”, the UK’s Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said, “Increasing visa fees for people making their home in the UK is unfair, divisive and dangerous, especially during a cost-of-living crisis that is making life tougher for all of us. High visa costs are already leaving families without cash for essentials, living month to month just to save for a visa.” Later in the year, a proposed rise to the IHS for funds allocated to the NHS is expected to be implemented.