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UK Home Office application fees and NHS Surcharge obscene and inhuman

21 Dec 2019 at 21:29hrs | Views
Home Office has always set up fees which are very high and obscene. Their fee levels are extremely high, unfair and unreasonable. The Home Office charging fee system is structured in a way that it punishes applicants for being foreigners.  

MPs and campaigners have called for urgent action to reduce Home Office fees as the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration launches an inquiry into the charges.

David Bolt issued a call for evidence as he started work on an inspection of the Home Office’s charging for asylum, immigration, nationality and customs services.

'A money-making machine': families struggle to pay Home Office chargesOne family had to choose between paying for accommodation or saving money for Home Office fees. Another family, who have a disabled daughter, are still paying back the £7,000 they borrowed to pay the charges and said they fear losing their Fees for immigration and nationality applications have steadily risen since 2010 under the “hostile environment” policy, including in the latest round of changes in April.

Among the charges are the £3,250 levy for indefinite leave for an adult dependent relative and £1,330 for an adult naturalisation application.

The Home Office made profits of up to 800% on some immigration applications from families. The cost to the Home Office of processing a naturalisation application is £372. but they are charging applicants over two thousand pounds just for an application. 

So the court ruling brings great relief to the price madness playing in the Home Office circles. The high Court ruled that these charges was "unlawful", the High Court has ruled in a case which was brought by two children. 

The fee applies to children born outside the UK, and those born in the UK before their parents were granted citizenship or settled status.

Delivering the ruling judge Mr Justice Jay said the Home Office "failed to have regard to the best interests" of children affected.  This ruling is set to bring sanity and fairness to the Home Office attitude to the foreigners. 

However the Home office had not complied with the ruling serve to say they will look into it. Either way they are bound by law to respect the judgement despite the fact that they are are not agreeing with the ruling. 

Young people currently face a £1,012 registration fee before they can formally become British citizens - despite applications costing the Home Office £372 to process.

Fees have risen since 2011, and the cost of registering two children has more than tripled due to fee increases and the abolition of second child discounts.

The government was "shamelessly profiteering" the "landmark ruling" could help tens of thousands of children growing up in the UK gain citizenship.Mr Justice Jay said the evidence during the hearing had shown that "for a substantial number of children, a fee of £1,012 is simply unaffordable". The charges were so punitive and indeed draconian.  Children and their parents felt  alienated, excluded, isolated, second-best, insecure and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the UK"

The case was brought on behalf of two children by campaign group the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC).

Both children - identified only as O, aged 12, and A, aged three - were born in the UK and have lived there their entire lives.During the hearing, O told the court that she feared her school friends would find out that she is "not British like them".

Mr Justice Jay  said that O and her mother could only afford the fee "by taking steps which to my mind would be wholly unreasonable".

And he said there was "no evidence" that the Home Office had "identified where the best interests of children seeking registration lie, has begun to characterise those interests properly (or) has identified that the level of fee creates practical difficulties for many". 

Assuming Home Office Caseworkers/decision makers receive adequate training prior to embarking on caseworking, what could make consideration so difficult or time consuming, where as is often the case, the application is usually accompanied by the same but updated evidence as that submitted in the previous spouse entry clearance application? there was no justification whatsoever in the high fees imposed on immigrants. The fees are still paid even if the applicant will not qualify. This is clearly daylight robbery.  

A successful applicant under the 7year rule or by reference to the Partner rules under Appendix FM will be granted limited leave to remain for two and half years at a time.  This time she pays over two thousand pounds for both IHS and home office fees. 

Disregarding future fee increases, based on the current fee structure, the minimum amounts that an applicant Spouse on the 5year route to settlement would have paid out by the time they obtain citizenship  will have paid five thousand pounds. 

In 2011, the fee for adult naturalisation was £700, while the registration fee for an adult has gone from £500 seven years ago to £1,206.

The cost of a settlement visa for a dependent relative has risen from £585 in 2008-09 to £3,250 in 2017-18, an increase of 450%.Naturalisation for non-British overseas territory citizens costs £1,330, compared with £906 in 2014-Nationality registration for adults has gone up from £823 in 2014-15 to £1,206.

Stephen Doughty, a Labour MP on the home affairs select committee, said: “Given the repeated shambles in the Home Office over a series of immigration processes, let alone the widening scandal over highly skilled migrants, many people will rightly ask whether the Home Office provides value for money to individual citizens and applicants.

“Fees and charges being made by the Home Office should be reviewed. It is never acceptable for them to make a profit on these crucial activities.”

Figures released to the BBC showed the Home Office made £800m in revenue from fees in six years. The Home Office is set to make the immigrants run the Home Office financially. one wonders then if the behaviour is lawful. People are being punished for being immigrants and still they are looked down upon and surely oppressed by a nation which claims to be a champion of human rights.  

Jan Doerfel, an immigration lawyer, said: “My view on fees is that they are certainly too high and, in my view, will no doubt be prohibitive in the sense that individuals who would otherwise be in a position to regularise their status may not be able to do so because they cannot pay the fees.

“The ongoing narrative and myth is that migrants are a drain on the system and don’t pay their way.

“In fact, migrants have been paying disproportionate fees for many years, as the Home Office are charging migrants fees that greatly exceed what it costs them to actually process applications.“It also needs to be borne in mind that many migrants working in the UK will have paid taxes for many years, whilst at the same time, would have been barred from having access to public funds to which they have effectively been contributing.”Concerns have repeatedly been raised about the possible profit made by the department, given the lower cost of processing the applications.

Registration fees for children have caused particular unease. Registration is the process where someone who has an existing right to British citizenship applies to obtain it.

It costs £1,012 to to register under-18s, up from £500 in 2011. In 2014, discounts for a second or additional child were scrapped. The High Court declined to rule on the lawfulness of the fee last year.

Yvette Cooper, the chairwoman of the home affairs committee, said: “The scale of citizenship fees for many people, especially children, who have lived here for many years has become a real and growing problem. Under the current system, children can be left in a precarious position, unable to study, work or access social security at the end of their teenage years.”

“This fee prevents many children, including children born in the UK, exercising their right to be recognised as British, leaving them exposed now and throughout their lives to the very same immigration system and powers that have so blighted the lives of many of the Windrush generation.

“Doing this to children, who have lived all or nearly all their lives in this country and are as British as any of their peers, is nothing short of a national disgrace.” The home office is using the fees to discourage genuine people from regulating their stay in the UK. 

The Home Office said charging fees above cost was necessary to reduce the burden on taxpayers from areas of the border, immigration and citizenship system not funded by charges.Chai Patel of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said: “The Home Office should not be making a profit on immigration application fees, and certainly not at the obscene markups we see today.

“It is simply wrong that there are children in the UK who are entitled to British citizenship, but cannot afford the exorbitant fees to register as British. Instead, they are either forced into irregular status, or forced into a vicious cycle of paying the slightly less expensive fees for temporary status, over and over again, never quite accumulating enough to register as British.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “When setting fees, we also 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.

“There are exceptions to application fees to protect the most vulnerable, such as for young people who are in the care of a local authority. Application fees are also waived where evidence provided shows that a person may be destitute, or where there are exceptional financial circumstances, and requiring a payment would result in a breach of rights under the European convention on human rights.

So the judgment by Justice Jay comes as a relief to the immigrants.  the fees were actually running the whole ministry. The ministry is never meant for profit especially when the government is in a democratic system. 

Now time is ticking for the Home Office to adopt and follow the ruling. 

while we celebrate the ruling it is to be seen if the Home Office will abide by the law.

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
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