***Amendment 30/08/11 - Well maybe the Embassy are reading my blog :) from earlier this month the rate being applied by the Embassy has been changed to 50thb to the £. Still not quite the more realistic 48 but its a start***
Can anyone remember the last time they were getting 52thb to the pound in Thailand? It certainly hasn't been within the last two years from what I can remember. Yet that is the current exchange rate being applied to visa fee's by the UK Embassy in Bangkok "These fees are effective for all visa applications made from 6 April 2011. The consular rate of exchange is 52 Baht [THB] to £1".
The UKBA website sets the settlement visa fee at £810 or 42120thb using their out of date exhange rate of 52thb to the £. In reality, using the ACTUAL rate which is more like 48.5thb, that makes the fee substantially more at around £868.
Given that the Embassy process hundreds of visa's every month, that difference in fee must be making them thousands of pounds over and above what they should be charging than if the fee's were linked to current exchange rates. For example, the statistics for processing visa's found on the guidance to processing times, claims that 146 settlement visa decisions were made in May. 146x the difference of £58 would make the Embassy £8.5k more than they should be charging by using the current rates. Surely it would be a much more fair system to regularly update the exhange rate, even on a monthly basis?
I can't help but feel that the government are maintaining the out of date rate as another way of squeezing even more money from those that have no choice but to pay. Afterall, what price do you put on being able to join your loved ones in the UK?