Home Office halves proposed fees for visa appeals

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Fees of up to £580 foreign national would have to pay to appeal against refusal of a UK visa are to be reduced by the Government after criticism by civil rights groups and Labour MPs.

Fees of up to £580 foreign national would have to pay to appeal against refusal of a UK visa are to be reduced by the Government after criticism by civil rights groups and Labour MPs.

The Home Office infuriated ethnic minority and refugee campaigners in July when it announced proposals to impose charges to cover court costs. Ministers have now indicated they will reduce the cost after complaints that it would unfairly penalise relatives of many Britons of Asian background. A maximum fee of £200 is more likely, with most people paying less than £100.

The right to appeal against a visa refusal, abolished by the Tories, will be restored by the Government from October in line with a manifesto pledge.

However, the Home Office and Lord Chancellor's Department decided to charge for the process for the first time to fund the system and deter time-wasting appeals.

Under the proposals, anyone choosing an oral appeal hearing would have had to pay £580, while those selecting a paper-based or written appeal faced a charge of £280.

The plans were first made public at the end of July and people were given less than a fortnight to reply. The consultation brought overwhelming opposition to the charges from most groups, while scores of Labour MPs said the issue could cost votes at the election.

A Home Office source told The Independent: "We realise the charges have been set too high and it is madness, politically speaking, to go ahead with them as they are." The charges are unlikely to be dropped completely as ministers want to retain an element of deterrence. An announcement on revised charges will be made in the next two weeks.

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