The Home Office have been asserting publicly that in their overhaul of the UK’s Immigration rules and practices, which will come into effect at the end of this year/early next year, that the UK is “open for business”.
Yet, this week, the Home Office have scored a spectacular own goal by increasing the immigration health surcharge, imposed only on those seeking limited leave to enter or remain in the UK from £400 a year per person to an eye watering £624 per person per year. This is at a time when economic uncertainty is gripping the global markets; UK businesses are making it clear that they need not only higher paid skilled workers but lower paid workers.
The strain on the UK’s public services is well known including the numbers of vacancies in the NHS. There are many people who come to the UK lawfully, not through the work route, but have the right to work in the UK such as students or family members of British or settled people. The unfairness of this tax is stark: those migrants who have to pay this and who are or have been working in the UK are already contributing to public services and public funds through their payment of PAYE or tax on self-assessment, as well as national insurance charges. No explanation has been given for such a rise in the figures. We already see many people struggling to raise the Home Office fees for their applications and those of their families to extend their leave in the UK.
The UK cannot be considered open for business if the level of fees that people have to pay simply to have their applications processed and granted are beyond the reach of many people.