What does the proposal to increase Immigration Health Surcharge entail and how will it affect those wishing to come to the UK?
Proposal to increase Immigration Health Surcharge
The Immigration Health Surcharge:
Introduced in 2015, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a charge that funds the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). It is applicable for non-EEA nationals applying for UK visas under certain circumstances. Paying this surcharge will enable applicants to access NHS healthcare services during their stay in the same way as UK citizens.
Who is required to pay?
Individuals making visa applications from outside the UK will have to pay the IHS if:
(i) they are a non-EEA national; and
(ii) they are applying for a visa to work, study or join their family in the UK for more than 6 months.
Individuals making visa applications from within the UK will have to pay the IHS if:
(i) they are a a non-EEA national; and
(ii) they are applying for a visa for any length of time, including applications for 6 months or less.
It is important to note that if an individual falls into either of the two categories, they will be required to pay the IHS even if they have private medical insurance. Failure to pay the IHS will result in the visa application being refused.
Individuals do not need to pay the IHS if they are applying for either:
(i) a visitor visa; or
(ii) a work, study or family visa for 6 months or less from outside the UK.
The latter individuals, however, will need to pay for any NHS healthcare service at the point they use it, unless it is a free service.
What are the proposed changes?
Currently, non-EU nationals applying for a work or family visa have to pay £200 per year. Individuals applying for a student or Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa pay the discounted rate of £150 per year.
The changes proposed by the government would see the IHS double for all applicants, resulting in non-EU nationals having to pay £400 per year. Students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme would be required to pay £300 per year.
Short-term migrants and individuals on visitor visas will continue to be charged for NHS healthcare services at the point of access.
Why were these changes proposed?
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) estimates that the NHS spends an average of £470 per person every year on treating individuals required to pay the IHS. The proposed changes by the government aim to better reflect this cost to the NHS on treating those who pay the IHS.
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes has stated that while long-term migrants are welcome to use the NHS, it is a national health service paid for by British taxpayers and it is only fair that people who come to the UK make a contribution to support the running of the NHS. You can access her full written statement here.
When will the proposed changes be applied?
The proposed increase to the IHS is set to come into effect in December 2018 subject to Parliamentary approval.
How can NA Law Solicitors help?
As specialists in individual immigration, we can help you apply for your desired visa before the increased surcharge is implemented. Contact us for a free 15-minute telephone consultation.