Online, the Home Office refer to applicants as “Customers” and state they provide a “Service” to such applicants during the application process:
“The service we offer
Our service standard processing times for standard applications (6 months or 8 weeks depending on application type) will start when we receive your application.
Our customer charter sets out the service UK Visas and Immigration aims to provide its customers and what it expects from them” – www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration/about-our-services
The published Customer Service Commitment states:
“We aim to be a customer-focused organisation, offering a high-quality service, making it clear what you can expect from us and what your responsibilities are in return.
What you can expect us to do
You can expect us to:
- make our application processes clear and simple
- respond to your enquiries in full
- make a correct decision based on policy and law, understanding your individual circumstances
- explain our decision clearly and, where appropriate, help you understand what to do next
- have a simple to use complaints process that puts things right if we make a mistake
- treat you with respect and be sensitive to your situation
- keep your personal information, and anything you tell us, safe and secure
- seek your feedback to continually improve our service”.
The above professed commitments are nothing but mere lip service.
In practice, applicants are not treated as actual Customers by the Home Office. Neither is a service provided to them. This is despite an applicant having paid substantial Home Office application fees for the “service”.
Indicators that an applying individual is not a customer of the Home Office and no actual service is being provided to them
That in practice applicants are not “Customers” nor receive a “Service” from the Home Office during the application process, but are a good source for the siphoning of money for the government, is evident from the following:
- When on top of exorbitant Home Office application fees, Applicants are expected(and have been conditioned) to pay between £71.50 to £138.00 or more to book a standard biometrics enrolment appointment. This is despite the Government publishing on 2 November 2018 in relation to the newly introduced application process, “Free appointments will be available for everyone, however, customers will also have the option to purchase added value services such as same day appointments and On Demand services” – gov.uk/government/news/new-uk-visa-and-citizenship-application-services-centres-open
- When Applicants are fleeced twice for the same process, ie paying twice for enrolling biometrics. A £19.20 biometrics enrolment fee is automatically added to the Home Office application fees payable on submission of the online application form. Subsequently however, for Applicants who have already self-uploaded supportive documents and requiring no other additional add-on services, they expected to pay an additional fee referred to above to book an appointment solely to have biometrics enrolled.
- When an Applicant pays £2408.20 for an indefinite leave to remain application but is required to pay an additional £1560 for the Immigration Health Surcharge if the indefinite leave to remain application is refused but limited leave to remain is granted instead. For example, an applicant applies in April 2021 for ILR based on the 10year lawful long residence Rule, however in September 2021 that application is refused but since the Applicant has a British citizen child or a child aged at last 7years residing in the UK at the date of application, limited leave to remain is likely to be granted instead. In such circumstances, the Applicant will pay out a total of £3968.20 to the Home Office in the space of 5months. The £1560 is required to be paid to the Home Office within 10working days from the date of the refusal of the ILR application, otherwise the deemed limited leave to remain application will be rejected as invalid. If the application is rejected as invalid the applicant becomes an overstayer. See Paragraph 276A04 of the Immigration Rules in this regard and the circumstances in which the Home Office will treat the application for indefinite leave to remain as an application for limited leave to remain.
- When the Home Office deduct a £25 administrative fee from the overall application fees paid when an application is rejected as invalid.
- When a mere human rights limited leave to remain application (£ 2612.20 total per applicant) costs more to process than a SET(LR) or SET(O) or FLR(DL) indefinite leave to remain application (£2408.20 total per applicant). Why can’t the limited leave application also be charged at £2408.20?
- When an Applicant completes and submits a private life human rights online application form in less than an hour, requiring only to upload a few documents, yet an eye watering £2612. 20 is required to be paid before the online form can go through for submission.
- When an Applicant on the 10year route to settlement is expected (based on current fees of £2612.20 per applicant) to pay a minimum of £10,448.80 over the years before they are eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain. If such an applicant has a dependant Partner and they have children later on requiring to be added on in future extension applications during that 10year period, then a fortune from that household to the Home Office will be payable during the 10years.
- When in order to receive an expedited decision within 5working days via the ‘priority service’, it costs £500 in addition to the application fee. To receive a decision by the end of the next working day through the ‘super priority service’, it costs £800 in addition to the application fee. The standard Home Office application fees payable are already exorbitant as it is. The higher additional fees that apply to receive a faster decision only go to show that applicants are being treated as ATM’s by the Home Office. For applicants of little means needing to travel urgently, perhaps due to family illness abroad, and only able to make provision for the standard application fees, there is no hope of receiving a faster decision within a week.
- When from submission of an application to decision-making several many months later, no contact at all is received from the Home Office in the interim period. Such a practice is clearly contrary to the Home Office’s own published guidance: “If there is a problem with your application or if it is complex, we will write to explain why it will not be decided within the normal standard. We will write within the normal processing time for the 8 week standard and within 12 weeks for the 6 month standard. The letter will explain what will happen next” – gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration/about-our-services
- When the Home Office Complaints procedure usually yields little that resembles a “customer-focused” approach.
- When the Home Office play hide and seek with their contact email addresses. A Home Office email address may be in use one week but not the other. When contact is made if a relevant email address is in sight, either no response at all is received from the Home Office or a response is only received following numerous chaser correspondence. So far for human rights applications, the following email addresses have recently in September 2021 yielded some responses from the Home Office: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- When FLR(FP), FLR(DL), FLR (FM), SET(LR) Applicants (and others) do not receive acknowledgement letters following submission of their applications. Due to the online application process introduced in November 2018, the Home Office no longer issue individual letters acknowledging receipt of pending applications. A consequence of this for Applicants whose employers still insist on seeing a Home Office acknowledgment letter whilst declining to conduct a right to work check on the employee, is termination of employment. That an appropriately worded acknowledgment letter/email is relevant and important for each applicant is evident from the contents of the email set out below received from the Home Office on 10 September 2021 after several urgently phrased chaser emails when an Applicant was about to have her employment terminated: “Thank you for your email. We apologise for the late response. Please note that this mailbox is for internal use only. Your email has been forwarded to the relevant department who have advised the following: I can confirm that your client Mrs….. had valid leave in the UK and they made a new application in time. Your client is covered by Section 3C Leave under the same conditions as their previous visa whist your current application is under consideration. Employers can make checks of your immigration status using the link below. https://www.gov.uk/check-job-applicant-right-to-work . Their reference with the UKVI is 1212-0001-000-0000 and 20000000. This relates to the current application that they have open. If you have any further enquiries, please contact our enquiry services. Full details of how to contact UKVI by phone or e-mail, from both inside and outside the UK, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk. Any enquiries already made to the above team will be responded to within 15 working days of receipt. Please ensure you follow the correct procedure advised above as further emails to this inbox may not be read and may be deleted without a response”.
When applicants enquire why the Home Office do not respond to correspondence or why the delay in decision making in their case is growing increasingly alarming despite having paid so much to the Home Office for processing their applications, it sometimes is tempting to state the obvious: “Unfortunately, you are not and will likely never be treated as a true “customer” by the Home Office during the processing of your application. Ignore the fact that you have just paid significant fees to the Home Office. The Home Office is a different sort of creature in comparison to other UK government departments. Do not expect a” service” from the Home Office. To the Home Office you are an immigrant (not a customer) who has made an application for leave to remain, to be responded to only when the Home Office are ready to do so or when they can no longer logically sustain the current wall of silence. Be rest assured however that I will diligently continue to pursue the progress of your case including submitting a complaint as agreed with a view to extracting a decision from the Home Office. You may however in the meantime also consider approaching your MP so that they may make separate representations on your behalf in relation to the unreasonable delay in making a decision in your case”.
Reference is also made to previous blog posts as regards the poor “service” provided by the Home Office, including how immigrants are siphoned dry by substantial Home Office application fees:
- Home Office delays: FLR(FP) applications not subject to a service standard due to COVID-19 pandemic “severe disruption” says the Home Office | UK Immigration Justice Watch Blog
- The New Home Office Application Process – A Shoddy Service | UK Immigration Justice Watch Blog
- Home Office application fees and NHS Surcharge: How the UK Government siphons immigrants dry | UK Immigration Justice Watch Blog