LONDON — The Home Office is about to start charging non-UK residents £5.48 to send a single email enquiry to its visa service.
The charge, which is effective as of Thursday, June 1, comes after the Home Office outsourced its visa enquiries service to Sitel UK, a subsidiary of French-owned Acticall Sitel Group.
A statement on the Home Office website says that “customers who contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) by email will need to pay using a credit or debit card and will be charged £5.48.”
A source with knowledge of the plans told Business Insider that the new measures are being implemented to reduce the financial burden on government as current arrangements cost a significant amount to run.
Contacting UKVI from outside the UK by email is currently free, while there is a charge for contacting the service via telephone.
There are no plans to introduce charges for people contacting UKVI from within the UK.
The Home Office also says that the number of languages available for potential applicants will be reduced to eight, including English. Guidance is currently available in 20 languages.
A source said that the language services which will no longer be offered amount to only 4% of the total calls and emails UKVI receives each year.
The full statement on the visa section of the Home Office’s website says:
Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to cut immigration below 100,000 if she wins the general election in June.
Net migration to the UK was around 273,000 for the year ending September 2016, according to the ONS.
Business Insider also contacted Sitel UK for comment, but none was received at the time of publication.
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