HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 cc808-9W
Mrs. Anne Campbell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what annual income his Department expects to gain from introducing charges for international student visas. [129427]

Beverley Hughes

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 Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). The regulations were laid on 10 July. IND already charges fee in respect of Nationality applications, for Travel Documents, and since 1 April this year 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 the speed with which we process these applications, leading to ever-higher levels of customer service.

The estimated revenue from the introduction of charging for leave to remain applications is £90 million.

The estimated revenue from international students is approximately £21 million per annum.

Mrs. Anne Campbell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will monitor charges for international student visas to see whether they have a deterrent effect. [129428]

Beverley Hughes

The 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.

Treasury rules require us to undertake an annual fee review at which point we will monitor the level of applications that we have received.

However, there are many factors which affect the level of intake of applications so it would not be right to conclude without detailed analysis that any perceived decrease was solely due to the introduction of charging.

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