Immigration Health Surcharge FAQ

The UK Government is increasing the immigration Health Surcharge to be paid by overseas nationals looking to enter and stay in the United Kingdom (UK). In our Immigration Health Surcharge FAQ blog, we outline the nature of the changes and the reasons given for the increase and answer other frequently asked questions,

What are the Immigration Health Surcharge changes?

On 8 January 2019, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will increase by £200 to £400 per year for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals seeking to enter the UK for over 6 months.

The surcharge will also double for non-EEA students and Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa applicants from £150 to £300 per year.

How is the Immigration Heath Surcharge calculated?

If the applicant applies for a Tier 2 work for visa for a term of 3 years, the applicant will incur a surcharge of £1,200. Students on the other hand can expect to pay £300 per year.

When was the Immigration Health Surcharge introduced?

On 6 April 2015, the UK Coalition Government introduced the IHS for EEA nationals seeking to live, work and study in the UK for over 6 months. The purpose of the surcharge was to raise funds for the National Health Service (NHS) from overseas nationals in the UK,

In addition to visa application fees, non-EEA nationals were required to pay a surcharge of £200 per year, before the increase, for each year of the length of their visa, payable at the time of the submission of the application.

Students on the other hand were expected to pay £150 per year, prior to the increase.

Why was the Immigration Health Surcharge introduced?

At the time of the introduction, the Government said:

‘Currently non-European nationals coming to work, study or join family members receive free medical treatment under the UK’s NHS in the same way as a permanent resident.’

The Government also quoted Charles Hay, UK Ambassador to South Korea, who said:

‘We, of course, recognise the very valuable contribution that Koreans who come the UK to study and work make to the wider economy and so have deliberately kept the surcharge at a competitive level – lower than most private health insurance policies.’

Unfortunately, the Government neglected to recognise that, not only do non-EEA nationals pay high visa application fees which go towards the State, rather than directly to the Home Office, but that many overseas nationals contribute to the State and NHS by way of income tax.

What are the Immigration Health Surcharge benefits?

In exchange for payment of the IHS, visa nationals will be allowed to access NHS services. The UK Government argues that the surcharge represents good value for money to non-EEA nationals, carrying a lesser fee than some private medical insurance policies.

Why is the Immigration Health Surcharge being increased?

In October 2018, the UK Government asserted that the National Health Service (NHS) received £600 million from the IHS since April 2015. It is projected that IHS increase could rise an extra £220 million for the NHS.

Home Office Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said:

‘Our NHS is always there when you need it, 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.’

The Minister added,

‘It is only fair that people who come to the UK make a contribution to the running of the NHS, and even with the increase we still continue to offer a good deal on healthcare for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily.’

Overseas nationals working in the UK will still be expected to make National Insurance contributions from their UK salary and pay income tax.

Yet, perhaps the Government also wishes to minimise any shortfall in tax receipts resulting from the UK’s departure from the European Union from April 2019.

How is the Immigration Health Surcharge payment made?

Payment is made online at the time of submission of the visa application, and prior to the visa biometric appointment.

When submitting the visa application, the overseas national will be directed to a separate portal where the IHS will need to be paid. Once completed, the applicant will be issued with an IHS reference.

It will not be possible to submit the application unless the IHS has been paid in full.

Will the Home Office send an Immigration Health Surcharge email?

In some limited circumstances, such as an Ancestry dependant visa applications, payment of the IHS may be requested by the Home Office at a later.

If so, the Home Office will communicate this to the applicant, via email. If so, the applicant must make payment of ant outstanding surcharges within 7 working days if applying from outside of the UK, and 10 working days if applying from within the UK.

Will the Home Office issue an Immigration Health Surcharge refund?

If the visa application is refused, applicants will receive a refund of the IHS. This does not mean that the applicant will receive a refund of the visa application fees in the event of a refusal.

Refunds are also automatically paid if the applicant mistakenly incurred the surcharge twice.

The Home Office states that refunds are normally paid within 6 weeks of the application outcome, though from experience refunds are processed much sooner.

If the refund is not received within the 6 weeks’ timeframe, contact should be made with the Home Office.

What is an Immigration Health Surcharge partial refund?

An overseas national applicant will automatically get a partial refund where the surcharge was paid for a longer period that they were granted leave for.

Are visitors required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge?

The surcharge will not apply to overseas travellers entering the UK for less than 6 months or those seeking indefinite leave to remain.

Conclusion

The UK Government has doubled the Immigration Health Surcharge payable by non-EEA nationals in order to raise additional funds for the National Health Service.

In exchange, overseas nationals travelling to the UK for over 6 months will have access to national health services. Nevertheless, as set out this Immigration Health Surcharge FAQ blog, overseas nationals will need to factor in this cost, in addition to any visa application fees and relocation costs.

Further, there are number of practical considerations, set out in the Immigration Health Surcharge FAQ blog that non-EEA nationals may wish to bear in mind when taking forward their visa applications.

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals, families and organisations.

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