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Leave To Remain

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what basis the figures of (a) £155 and (b) £250 were set for charges for in-country applicants wishing to extend their stay in the UK. [127102]

Fees are set under Treasury rules to recover the full administrative cost entailed in considering applications and no more. This is calculated by taking the overall costs of processing applications divided by the number of decisions we expect to make.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the estimated revenue per year is from the introduction of charges for in-country applicants wishing to extend their stay in the UK; what estimate he has made of the impact in the UK; and if he will consider applications for the fee to be waived. [127106]

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced in February 2002 in his White Paper "Secure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration with Diversity in Modern Britain", that he would be introducing charges in order to fund the modernisation of IND. The regulations were laid on 10 July. IND already charges fees in respect of Nationality applications and for Travel Documents, and since 1 April 2003 for Work Permits.We continue to welcome the many foreign nationals who choose to study, work and live in the UK—they boost our economy and add to our thriving cosmopolitan society. Many apply to extend their stay each year, and it is right that they should meet the costs of that. The Government have made significant investment in recent years to improve all aspects of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, including the standard of service people receive when they submit applications. Charging will help us to continue to improve the efficiency and speed with which we process these applications, leading to ever higher levels of customer service.I have decided that all those who can legally be charged will be. Therefore, the only exemptions to this are EU nationals (and third country nationals who are their dependants); those making a claim for asylum or for protection under Article 3 of the ECHR; people applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain on the grounds of domestic violence where, at the time of making of the application, the applicants appear to be destitute; and those exempt from immigration control.Any further exemptions would leave an unfair burden on the general taxpayer or threaten the much needed service improvements which will be facilitated by charging.The estimated revenue for introducing charging for leave to remain applications is £90 million.