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The Times: Home Office made profits of £500 million from immigration and citizenship fees last year


Analysis shows surplus made from fees for residency and citizenship increased by 91 per cent since 2014

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Soaring immigration and citizenship fees delivered a £500 million surplus to the Home Office in 2018, The Times reported yesterday.

Image credit: UK GovernmentThe Times said its analysis showed that the profits made from fees for residency and citizenship had increased by 91 per cent in the past five years.

Channel 4 News also reported on The Times' investigation. It noted Home Office profits had increased from £260 million in 2014.

According to Channel 4 News, campaigners say the system has been designed to make money and there is little parliamentary oversight on the level of fees.

In one example given, child citizenship fees, which increased from £669 in 2014 to £1012 in 2018, made the Home Office £24 million in profit last year. The cost of processing to the Home Office was only £144 in 2014 and £372 in 2018.

In another example, the cost of indefinite leave to remain doubled from £1093 in 2014 to £2389 in 2018 despite the Home Office's processing costs falling (down from £248 in 2014 to £243 last year).

In an article in The Independent last month, Thom Brooks, the Dean of Durham Law School, highlighted what he called the Home Office's "rampant profiteering" off immigration fees.

Brooks said: "The Home Office already makes a hefty profit of up to 900 per cent on the processing of immigration-related fees. Not only are migrants paying the full costs for the delivery of immigration services, a large share of what is charged goes to non-immigration purposes including the profits of firms services are outsourced to."

According to Brooks, while outsourcing firms profit, the Home Office remains "cash-poor with chronic underinvestment in front-line service."

The Guardian also examined the issue last month, noting that a report by the organisation Let us Learn found young people who have grown up in the UK are being forced into destitution as a result of fees that have more than trebled in the past five years.

Let us Learn said: "Limited leave to remain is a form of immigration status granted to people with strong ties to the UK. It has to be renewed regularly with the Home Office over a 10-year period; and each application now costs £2,033, an increase of 238% since 2014. The spiralling cost is leaving many young people and their families struggling to afford to keep their 'lawful' immigration status, putting them in dread of becoming subject to the government's 'hostile environment', intended to target those with no legal right to be in the UK. It is only after maintaining their limited leave to remain for at least 10 years, that young migrants can apply to be finally recognised as permanently settled in the UK."

In response to yesterday's investigation in The Times, Channel 4 News quoted a Home Office spokesperson as saying: "The Home Office does not make a profit from application fees. Visa, immigration and citizenship fees are set at a level that helps provide the resources necessary to operate our border, immigration and citizenship system, to reduce the burden on UK taxpayers."