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23.03.2007 General News

British High Commission justifies visa fee hikes

By myjoyonline

The Information Officer at the British High Commission, Garry Nichols has dismissed claims that increases in visa fees effective April 1, are intended to exploit Ghanaians seeking to travel to the UK.

UK visa applicants will be required to pay 815,000 cedis for transit; 1.170 million cedis for a six month visa, and students will pay 1.835 million cedis.

Visitors seeking between one and ten years visas will be required to pay 3.7 million cedis.

The hike in visa fees has been met with some criticisms from the traveling public.

But Mr Nichols says the increase is not exclusive to Ghana.

He explained that the UK government was aiming to improve the control of its visa service which also includes administering the UK end of the visa.

He said the government intended to employ the use of biometric data into the visa regime at the end of the year and all this will bring in additional cost.

“And the visa regime is operated on a cost neutral basis, which means that the fees that we take in cover the service that we provide.”

Asked if applicants must bear the cost of system improvement by service providers, Nichol said the system was being improved as much for the applicant as for the British Government as well.

“We are here to provide a better service to people from Ghana and also improve on the service that we provide and we must make some investment into our infrastructure and also into the procedures that are in place for the visa regime. The one thing I should make clear is the visa price increase is not unique to Ghana, it is a global increase so these fees that have now been issued are the same worldwide for all people who need visas to go to the UK.”

He said the cost mutual basis operation of the visa regime makes it untenable for visa fee refunds for unsuccessful applicants, else it could also suppose that successful applicants be charged more.

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