Charities have welcomed a report detailing the impact of Home Office visa fees, but say the government should do more to review and reform its immigration charges.
A report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) has raised concerns about the impact immigration fees – which can amount to thousands of pounds – on vulnerable people and children, and called for transparency over how they are calculated.
But although the Home Office accepted most of the report’s recommendations, it has rejected a call for a full public investigation into visa costs.
The news came as Citizens UK revealed the Home Office is making £2m a month in profit from child citizenship fees – mandatory charges of £1,072 for children with the right to UK citizenship to claim it.
Dami Makinde, who arrived in the UK when she was eight, is on a 10-year path to indefinite leave to remain which requires her to pay £1,033 every two-and-a-half years to renew her status, as well as a £400 health surcharge every year.
She told Sky News she welcomes the report’s recommendations but wants the Home Office to go further, and listen to people who are affected by the steep fees.
“I myself have fallen into depression because of the costs,” she said. “I’ve been worried sick, even to the point of vomiting.”
The 25-year-old needs to renew her status in September and said she has been saving for her own and her brother’s fees.
She said: “It’s a constant burden. The amount of times I’ve cried because of all the hidden figures.
“I avoid going out to eat or going to birthday parties, I can’t hang out and do the normal things. I have aspirations and ambitions, I want to buy a home, for example. But I’m saving just to stay in the UK,” she said.
After retaining leave to remain for 10 years, most people in Dami’s position then have to pay £2,389 for indefinite leave to remain application, and £1,250 for naturalisation.
The final cost per person comes to £11,772 – nearly £50,000 for a family of four, according to Migrant Voice.
The charity have reported cases of the fee costs pushing families into destitution or parents being forced to pay for citizenship for one child while another loses their legal status.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants also called for the government to launch a full investigation into fees.
“As long as no action is taken, children who are eligible for citizenship will continue to be denied their rights, and their families will continue to be pushed into destitution,” Minnie Rahman said.
The Home Office says the high prices are to cover the wider costs of the immigration system.
In response to the report, it said it is “not possible” to run a full public consultation in time for the 2019 spending review, but said its policies were under constant review and that fee waivers are provided for vulnerable people.
“To reduce the burden on UK tax payers, fee levels take into account the wider costs involved in running our border, immigration and citizenship system, so that those who directly benefit from it contribute to its funding,” a spokesperson said.