UK Announces Increased Fees for Highly Skilled Migrants Programme


The British Government has announced new charges for applicants under its Highly Skilled Migrants Programme, which will see an increase in processing fees from 75 pounds to 150 pounds.
The British Home Office, in making the announcement recently, said the increase would take effect from October 31, 2003 and would apply to all persons seeking to enter the UK under the scheme. The move is expected to save UK taxpayers 1.8 million pounds in 2004/05.
The Home Office already charges for work permits, leave to remain, visas and nationality applications, sector-based schemes, and for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme.
Beverley Hughes, Home Office Minister, said some 3,721 people have entered the UK under the scheme and were working in fields as diverse as medicine, music, and engineering.
“We will shortly be expanding the scheme to attract and enable skilled applicants to work in the UK and to take the achievements of partners into account when considering an application. The Government welcomes those with the skills to help the UK prosper both economically and culturally, ” she stated.
The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme was set up in January 2002 as a route through which “particularly talented” people could apply to work in the UK. It differs from the work permit programme in that it does not require an employer to obtain a work permit for the individual. Applicants are assessed on a points system based on their qualifications, earning ability and experience.
Changes under the programme come two months after the UK Government announced a range of new charges for immigration services for foreign nationals living in the UK.
From August 1, people applying for permission to extend their stay in the UK started paying a charge for the processing of their applications. The Home Office said that this would save taxpayers 90 million pounds a year.
Postal applications now cost 155 pounds, with a premium same day service for personal callers costing 250 pounds. The charges apply to applications for an extension of stay in the UK; applications for settlement and permanent residency stamps being put in new passports.

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