Mum of four who can't afford food and clothes could be forced to pay £16,637 to stay in UK
Favour, 40, says she is struggling to afford basic essentials yet may need to pay a huge amount to stay in the UK with her four children after arriving in the country as a student
A struggling mum-of-four faces new Government plans will force her to fork out thousands of pounds for her family to stay in the UK
Favour came to the UK 13 years ago as a student and has settled into British life since but new visa fees being proposed means she could end up paying as much as £16,637. The 40-year-old, who wishes to be anonymous, told MyLondon that she was unable to keep paying visa fees after she had finished her course, as they were increasing each year.
She said her situation was "difficult" as she wasn't able to work, with her initial visa only valid for 'just over one year in 2010'. She explained: "I then had my son and the second time my visa was rejected I left everything, as I didn't have money to apply. So when I had my son I didn't apply for a visa as I didn't have money.
"I couldn't work. I was just going to charities, food banks, anywhere they gave food and clothing as I had two kids. I was frustrated, depressed and had mental health issues and had to go counselling."
When Favour had her third son, she had to look for a charity to help her. She found a solicitor and then received legal aid, which meant she could apply for a fee waiver in 2019.
As Favour is going through the 10-year route, she will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in 2030, after her four rounds of limited leave to remain renewals are done. However, she will have to pay the full fee, as there's no fee waiver for this visa category.
The fee for applying for this has just gone up from £2,404 to more than £2,885 per person. The UK government announced that visa fees were to be increased from October 4, although this does not apply to Favour yet, the Government is planning to raise the fees for limited leave to remain in the near future.
The fee waiver gives her two and a half years of limited leave to remain, after which she has to reapply and go through the process again. When she next has to apply for her visa to be renewed she will be forced to pay £3,800 plus separate fees for each of her children.
Currently the Government has already implemented an increase in student fees as well as the Indefinite Leave to Remain fee, among many others. For those who are rejected from a fee waiver, the immigration health surcharge is going to raise from £624 per year to £1,035 per year, though there is no set date for this increase yet.
Many people like Favour are on a visa that is valid for 2.5 years, meaning this component will be multiplied by 2.5 so they will have to pay £2.587 if their fee waiver is rejected. It is uncertain when this increase will kick in. The second component that is set to increase, though the date is uncertain, is the Home Office fee. This is going to raise from £1,038 to £1,258, an increase of 20 per cent.
For Favour, if her fee waiver is rejected in the next application, the cost of applying once all the fees hikes kick in will be £3,198 per child and £3,845 per adult. This is for a limited leave to remain which is valid for only two and a half years. For four children and one adult she would need to pay £16,637.
She said: "I have to pay for a visa for four kids too, even though they were born here. The increase is very uncalled for, my kids should be free or reduced, but they just put everything up. My three year old has to pay for visa fee for where he or she was born - it's not a good idea."
"We’re already hearing from families who have been saving for years to reapply for their visas who are terrified that they now won’t be able to save enough in time to pay their fees. Although some people may be able to apply to waive the fees, the process is inaccessible to the vast majority.
"The kids don't understand until they reach the age, my 11-year-old doesn't know what's happening. If they don't accept fee waiver, I have to keep appealing because I can't get money for five people."
A Home Office spokesperson said: "It is right and fair to increase visa application fees so we can fund vital public services and allow wider funding to contribute to public sector pay. Exceptions to the need to pay application fees for leave to remain are available in a number of specific circumstances, including affordability-based waivers, leave to remain on family and human rights grounds, and applications for child citizenship registration. Decisions are made on a case by case basis.”
Get email updates with the day's biggest stories