With all likelihood, prices of visas and visa-related services to the UK are going to change within month from now. Although some reductions are in the planning, the changes mostly include fee increases.
The proposal to change the fee structure was announced by the UK government this week, and if approved by Parliament the new fees will apply from 6 April 2014, while some fees for premium services overseas will apply from 31 March 2014.
In general, UK visa fees would be hiked by 4 per cent. This includes the fee for a short-term visa to the UK, noted the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
Currently, a short-term visit visa to the UK costs Dh500. A 4 per cent increase would mean a Dh520 charge. A longer term visa which allows a stay of up to 2 years now costs Dh1737, this would become Dh1806.
Further, a couple of new fees would be introduced for services that were previously free-of-charge. A fee of GBP428 (Dh2564) would be charged for applicants to the Tier 2 programme under the banner of a ‘Tier 2 shortage occupations fee’. This fee would be applied to both overseas and local applicants.
A new 5 year Tier 2 general/ICT application fee would be charged, and the discount for nationals of countries that have ratified the 1961 European Social Charter would be eliminated, to become a flat rate of GBP55 (Dh330).
Meanwhile, fee reductions of two kinds have been proposed. The sponsorship fees for Tier 2 large sponsor licenses and sponsor action plans would be reduced, and a number of other sponsorship fees frozen. The direct airside transit visa would be reduced to GBP40 (Dh240).
“The increases will allow us to improve our customer service, and enable us to begin offering optional premium services,” stated the UKBA on its website.
New premium services that have been proposed include a number of services enabling a fast-track visa application. These services would be provided on three levels of priority.
While a 3-5 day priority visa service would be provided at a cost of GBP100 (Dh599), a priority settlement application service would be available for GBP300 (Dh1797), and super priority visa service for GBP600 (Dh3595), the latter expediting the application process to the shortest period possible.
Furthermore, appointments outside of office hours would be made available for a charge of GBP50 (Dh300) and a passport passback service at more locations for GBP40 (Dh240) per applicant.