Immigration Health Surcharge for UK Visa applications set to double

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) was initially introduced into the UK in April 2015, requiring non-EU nationals, applying for a UK visa to contribute to the cost of their healthcare whilst they are in the UK.

Shutterstock 129203819UK Passport and EHIC Card

The current IHS surcharge is £200 per year for the majority of applicants, which the government intends to double to £400 per year. For students who were participating in the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme, the rate of £150 per annum is set to increase to £300 per annum respectively according to the announcement recently made by the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the proposal made to parliament earlier last week. 

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) was initially introduced into the UK in April 2015, requiring non-EU nationals, applying for a UK visa to contribute to the cost of their healthcare whilst they are in the UK. Temporary migrants who come to the UK on a study, work or family visa in excess of six months, must pay the surcharge in order to have the same NHS services as UK citizens.

The current IHS surcharge is £200 per year for the majority of applicants, which the government intends to double to £400 per year. For students who were participating in the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme, the rate of £150 per annum is set to increase to £300 per annum respectively according to the announcement recently made by the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the proposal made to parliament earlier last week. This would mean that a family of four applying for a one year visa would have their fees double from £800 to £1600 under the revised fee structure. The surcharge is not applicable to those applying for visitor visas, indefinite leave to remain or those who apply for leave under EEA regulations.

The revised fees can be paid for by sponsoring employers on behalf of the workers and attached to visa costs. This may result in employers sponsoring foreign workers thinking twice when considering the attractiveness of the UK for foreign talent.  

The IHS surcharge was also been extended to New Zealand and Australia in April 2016 as well as Tier 2 (Intra company Transfer) migrants as from 2017.

This increase is expected to earn the government funded National Health Service (NHS), an estimated extra 220 million pounds.

The UK minister Caroline Nokes, in justification of the proposed raised fees for Non-EU nationals confirmed that "Our NHS is … paid for by British taxpayers. We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but the NHS is a national, not international health service and we believe it is right that they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability". This proposed increase will "still continue to offer a good deal on healthcare for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily".

It is not yet clear as to when the revised surcharge fees will come into force, although anticipated by the end of December 2018, but with them being paid at point of application, and applying to those who want to enter the UK for longer than six months, as well as those looking to extend their leave to the UK, it is possible that the increased fees may apply to all migrants in future regardless of their status.