I have called on the Home Office to review all of its contracts for outsourcing immigration services after an investigation by The Independent and Finance Uncovered revealed that the Government has made £1.6bn from overseas visa applicants since contracting the bulk of its services to VFS, a Dubai-based firm accused of exploiting applicants.
I have previously written to the National Audit Office asking it to look into the Home Office’s contract with Sopra Steria, following reports of extortionate fees and poor service for visa applicants. This latest investigation by The Independent and reporters from Finance Uncovered has found that:
• The Home Office has profited by £1.6bn from overseas visa applicants in the five years since it outsourced the administration of the visa service to two companies in 2014.
• In previous five years, before it was outsourced, it generated just £179m.
• Between 2014 and 2018, the Home Office’s average “profit” for each visa application made increased by 326% from £28.73 to £122.51
• In 2019, the Home Office made profits of nearly half a billion pounds (£438m) from international visas.
As reported in The Independent, I said: “Outsourcing visa applications has led to poor service and high costs. The Home Office and private companies are making billions from ordinary people paying through the nose for visa applications. It’s not fair and ripping them off damages the UK’s international reputation.”
I have also written to the Chairs of the Public Accounts Committee and the Home Affairs Committee to request that they also investigate the matter.