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Home Office Plans To Extend 'Premium Fast-track Processing'

13 Nov 2013


Immigration News

Under new plans outlined by the Home Office, business travelers and holidaymakers to UK will be permitted to skip the passport queue at the airport if they pay an extra fee to the Home Office.

According to a consultation paper, ministers are drafting plans to prolong ‘premium fast-track processing’ which is presently only available to some business and first class passengers at Heathrow.

To cover more of the costs of immigration service by raising more revenue from passengers, the proposal is one among several new ideas being floated.

The payment to use this new scheme is not detailed. However, the document said that the fees will be set at a level that reflects the product’s value.

It added that the intention is to prolong the provision of premium fast-track processing through certain points of the border and dedicated VIP suites, both of which are presently charged at the level of cost-recovery.

It also stated that along with expanding the availability of these services, the ministers also want to raise the charges over cost-recovery levels to use the income to help invest in improving processes, fund the immigration system and secure the border.

The document says that for some premium services, rather than directly to the travelers, fees will be charged to the port or airline although the port or airline may decide to pass on all or some, of the cost of those services to travelers.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said fast-track processing, would be extended to other airports and broadened in scope.

Although the new schemes may primarily be targeted at business travelers and wealthy passengers, the spokesman has refused to rule out the possibility of extending it to ordinary holidaymakers at a later date.

To provide their views on the new proposals, the members of the public have 3 weeks.

Initially, the fast-track scheme for foreign travelers will be available at Gatwick and Heathrow airports before being rolled out to others.

This year, the UK Government is spending £1.75 billion on the immigration system. Around half of this spending amount is recovered by visa application fee and other service fees.

The aim of the new consultation paper is to raise the amount of money raised so that less of the cost has to be met through general taxation.

The paper also said that Visa fees for foreigners could be increased.

The spokeswoman from Home Office added that they think it is appropriate to recover some of costs of managing the border controls and immigration system by making sure that people who benefit from it directly, contribute accordingly.

She added that this consultation is part of an ongoing process to make sure that a competitive, world class visa system can be maintained which aids the ever-changing needs of the customers.

In 2012, passengers faced lengthy queues in the arrivals halls at Heathrow and other airports leading to immigration officers being moved from other roles to help reduce delays.


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