The government increased visa fees by 15-20% on 4 October. A huge increase in the immigration health surcharge will follow “no earlier than 16 January 2024”. Some migrants and their families were being forced into destitution due to the costs involved even before these increases. More will now be at risk of being pushed into poverty.
The government announced the increases in July as a means of funding public sector pay increases, a move that was condemned at the time as divisive and “deeply unfair”. Prior to the increase, fees were already charged at around 7 to 10 times the cost of processing them. Charging above processing costs has been government policy since 2003 “to help fund the wider borders and immigration system”. Migrant Voice are calling on the government to reduce fees in line with processing costs.
Birmingham rally on 31 October
On 31 October Migrant Voice are holding a rally at Birmingham Centenary Square between 3-5pm as part of events taking place across the country.
At a recent placard-making session at their Birmingham hub in preparation for the event, one participant said. “I will come and display my placard. This is my message”.
It will be a positive and constructive rally, with a range of speakers including people with lived experience, legal experts, and representatives from campaigning and service organisations, among others. The whole event will be facilitated in a spirit of solidarity and positive focus on the changes we need, even though, of course, it is not a positive subject.
As it is Halloween, while recognising that not everyone marks it as such, there will be a theme of ‘Home Office House of Horrors’, and participants are encouraged to dress up for the rally if they wish.
No one should be pushed into poverty
When asked for comment for this article about the day of action, Nazek Ramadan, Director of Migrant Voice, said: “We continue to see migrants being ignored, or treated as banks by politicians. We want to ensure that the public hears their voices. No-one should be pushed into poverty just to ensure that they can build a life here. It is time for visa fees to be reduced in line with their actual processing costs.”