My wife and I are preparing to travel back from Japan together to the UK.

Documentation itself isn't easy, but we check all the boxes.

My question is, why are the costs for this so expensive?

Due to my new job starting in January, for us to leave together would require faster processing, with the IHS service charge we're looking at over 2,000 pounds for just the visa.

Whereas in Japan, it would cost us somewhere in the region of 40 pounds.

I'm just curious why its so expensive? Are these arbitrary amounts produced by government to put people off? Are they eventually leading to benefits for the people paying taxes in the UK?

  • 7
    Gayot may be able to dig out a minister's speach in parliament to properly explain, but I suspect it's a case of wanting to raise money from people who can't vote and who some voters aren't keen on...
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 11:14
  • 3
    On a similar vein I've often wondered why the UK visa fees scale upwards so drastically with the length of time requested for the visa. Surely the time & effort required to process a 10-year visa application isn't significantly higher than that required for a 6-month visa ... Makes me feel like I am actually 'buying the visa' rather than paying the cost of processing my application.
    – brhans
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 12:51
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    The English don't like, don't want foreigners. They are most of the voters. Nobody cries when unwanted foreigners are hit with extra fees and taxes.
    – Louis
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 19:36
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    @Gagravarr yes that's correct! The British public has an all but intractable position that the whole immigration system should be self funding. This philosophy was born when Liam Byrne was Minister and has persisted through three governments. Right now they are at somewhere around 10% self-funding overall and every year they move closer to the goal of 100%.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 15:22
  • 1
    I am currently applying for a family visa to move near my children. I paid 4,500$ (!) for the application alone. Another 1,500$ went to IHS (Immigration Health Surcharge). There's no visa in the world whose processing costs that much. To me it feels like @Gagravarr pointed out, i.e: "So what if your children live here. You are a foreigner and we really don't want you here". All, of course, with the utmost British decorum and politeness.
    – Matanya
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


Results from a 2013 consultation on fees may interest you: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/fees-and-charging-immigration-and-visas-consultation

The money does go to maintain the immigration system generally, but it is not linked directly to the actual cost of processing your visa.

They have an income target to meet, so fees are balanced to take in enough money while keeping various sectors happy.

e.g. Universities and other educational institutions want student visas to be easier and cheaper; businesses want sponsoring work visas to cost them less; the tourism sector doesn't want any increase to visit visas, etc.

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