Kenyans will soon have to pay more to visit or live in the UK as His Majesty’s government hikes Visa fees in order to raise salaries for its civil service.
UK PM Rishi Sunak revealed on 13 July 2023 that visa application fees are set to rise significantly alongside the immigration health surcharge, which gives migrants access to the National Health Service.
Work visa fees will rise by 15% and all other visa fees will rise by at least 20%.
Sunak aims to raise salaries for junior doctors, teachers, police, and other public sector workers by 5 to 7 percent across the board. Therefore, the UK government is raising taxes on immigrants and visitors to cover these costs – rather than turn to borrowing – due to concerns about inflation.
“If we’re going to prioritise paying public sector workers more, that money has to come from somewhere else because I’m not prepared to put up people’s taxes and I don’t think it would be responsible or right to borrow more because that would just make inflation worse,” Rishi Sunak said.
He explained, “All of those fees are going to go up and that will raise over British pound 1 billion, so across the board visa application fees are going to go up significantly and similarly for the NHS”.
How Much Will Kenyans Pay?
The cost of a UK Visa depends on the type of Visa you apply for and the duration of your stay in the UK.
A Standard Visitor visa costs £100 (approx. Kshs 18,468) for up to six months. This will now rise to £120 or Kshs 22,160 (current exchange rate).
Longer stays attract higher costs, i.e., 2 years – £376, 5 years – £670 and 10 years – £837.
Nurses pay £247. The student Visa is £363 and it will cost £490 to renew or change your student visa if you want to extend your stay in the UK. All these fees will now rise by 20%.
The impact on migrant health costs is particularly notable. The immigration health surcharge, which the UK first introduced in 2015 at £200 to help fund the NHS, rose to £624 in 2020.
In order to get access to the NHS, Kenyan UK immigrants will see their health dues to the UK government rise by a whopping 66% to £1,035 per person per year or approximately Kshs192,000. (The discounted rate will rise to £776).
After Brexit happened, the UK made it possible in 2021 for highly skilled Kenyans without degrees-level qualifications to apply for work permits in Britain under post-Brexit immigration rules, putting them on par with job-seekers from the European Union and other regions in fields such as IT, accountancy, plumbing, and electrical works.
Essentially, it is now possible to work in the UK without a degree.
“Leaving the European Union means the UK will be open to the brightest and best from around the world – and Kenya is very much a part of that,” then British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott said in a statement at the time.
However, it is now significantly more expensive to visit or live in the UK compared to other countries such as the United States or France. It remains to be seen whether these higher fees will dampen demand for travel to the UK.
London has not yet announced when this substantial increase in the cost of applying for a UK visa will come into effect.
Your support empowers us to deliver quality global journalism. Whether big or small, every contribution is valuable to our mission and readers.