On February 3 2014 the Home Office announced proposed fee changes for visas, immigration and nationality applications which will come into effect on April 6 2014. In addition, new fees for premium services overseas are due to come into effect one week earlier.

The majority of fees will be increased by 4%. Moreover, dependants will see the removal of the 25% discount applied to their fees when submitting an application at the same time as the main applicant. This represents a considerable increase for employers sponsoring migrants with several dependants and the increase will make applications for indefinite leave to remain particularly costly; the new fee of £1,093 will apply to the main applicant and each dependant, which will take the application fees for a family of four to more than £4,000. Add in the additional £400 per applicant for processing at a premium service centre (known as 'public enquiry offices' until April 1 2014), and total application fees will be almost £6,000 for a family of four.

For Tier 2 applications the fee rises a modest 4% from £494 to £514 for overseas applications and from £578 to £601 for those made in the United Kingdom.

Of particular interest is the announcement that new rules will be introduced to enable Tier 2 applicants to apply for entry clearance or leave to remain for up to five years. However, this comes with a hefty price tag – £1,028 for overseas applicants and £1,202 for those applying from within the United Kingdom. The same fee also applies for each dependant. This will be a significant upfront cost for employers sponsoring long-term migrants, although it should be borne in mind that it will remove the need to submit an extension application after three years, as is the case under the existing arrangements.

The priority postal fee will rise from £275 to £300.

Under the Registered Traveller Scheme for frequent business visitors, a yearly fee of £50 will be introduced following a successful pilot.

Outside the United Kingdom, the Home Office will expand its premium services, which are currently available only in a limited number of countries, and will introduce a global fee for services that are currently charged at local rates. A fee of £100 will apply for a three-to-five-day priority visa service and a similar service for settlement applications will be available for a fee of £300. The availability of a super-priority visa service will be expanded whereby, for a fee of £600, the visa application will usually be decided within 24 hours.

The passport pass-back service will also be rolled out to more locations to enable applicants to retain their passports for most of the application process so as to facilitate travel. The fee for this will be £40 for each applicant.

There are a number of fee reductions – notably, a reduction in the fee for a sponsor licence application to £1,476. Fees for Tier 2 shortage occupations will be reduced to £428 for both overseas and in-country applicants.

For further information on this topic please contact Ilda De Sousa at Kingsley Napley by telephone (+44 20 7814 1200), fax (+44 20 7490 2288) or email ([email protected]). The Kingsley Napley website can be accessed at www.kingsleynapley.co.uk.