The cost of visa and naturalization fees will increase on 1 April 2007, and UK-Yankees say their disproportionate, above-inflation increases will hurt new British families. By making the cost of visa and naturalization a luxury good, the government is making people suffer for choosing legal pathways to immigration.
The cost of Indefinite Leave to Remain (permanent residency) will jump from £335 to £750. Naturalisation costs catapult from £200 to £575, and a visa based on employment in the UK leaps from £85 to £200. Under the new fee structure, the total cost of complete naturalisation will now be over £1500 for each individual application. This will amount to a prohibitive cost for families with children.
While the government wants immigrants to fit in and assimilate, these excessive fees would force a large number of immigrants to remain as non-resident aliens rather than naturalise or obtain ILRIndefinite Leave to Remain as they had planned.
UK-Yankee (www.uk-yankee.com) is a non-partisan, web-based organization of more than 5000 members are primarily North Americans either legally settled in or in the process of immigrating to the UK. Almost half of the UK visas issued worldwide are to North Americans. Because of the unfair nature of the fees, UK-Yankee has been forced to protest the effects on bringing families together.
“The consultation for the fee increase was fundamentally flawed. The government mainly asked educational and arts institutions what they thought would be the impact of jaw breaking fee increases. No one bothered to consult with groups actually representing legal immigrants or consider the hardship these costs raise,” says Sara Meadows, married to a British citizen.
“We’re trying to bring families together, but the government is conspiring to pull us apart,” says Terri O'Neale, who now parents a family of four. “As a newly married couple with an infant the emotional hardship of months apart became too much. But this new fee increase is devastating. We are two working parents and now we are hit with this huge fee increase for three ILRIndefinite Leave to Remain visas plus citizenship. I cry just thinking about its impact on our family budget.”
"The government says fee increases will pay for increased policing of illegal immigration. That’s a misguided logic where people who follow the rules pay for those who don’t,” says Robyn Davidson-American, a teacher with a British husband. "Our dreams have always involved raising a family in the UK because of the rich history, culture, and quality of life. I am devastated to think we may struggle to make our dream become a reality because of excessive fees.”