Most foreign nationals applying from outside the EEA are required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge. Notably, this fee is separate from the visa application fee that has to be paid on submission of the application form.
The basic idea is to ensure that people coming from other countries make a proper financial contribution to the cost of their National Health Service. Applicants are required to pay this fee at the time of their visa application process.
It is important to understand that one cannot avoid paying the IHS by making alternative arrangements. Money collected from the Immigration Health Surcharge goes to general government funds. The recent statistics suggest that more than 763,000 visas issued in 2019 attracted the Immigration Health Surcharge and raised around £900 million.
Even employer sponsorship licenses UK also depend on IHS, whereby migrants are required to pay the fee in order to get access to NHS care. This is applicable to the work visas granted for over six months and if applied from outside the UK. Currently, the surcharge is £400 per annum for the primary applicant and £400 additional for each dependent who will be joining the main applicant in the UK.
Apart from that, this fee is also payable by EEA nationals moving to the UK after the end of the Brexit transition period.
Those applying online should pay the IHS as part of their application. However, if applying by post, this fee should be paid online before forwarding the application form.
What is Immigration Health Surcharge?
The Immigration Health Surcharge is a fee imposed upon the majority of UK visa applicants. As mentioned above, this surcharge is in addition to other immigration charges.
Who needs to pay?
The IHS must be paid by the majority of visa applicants and their dependents applying from outside the UK. Short term visitors and those visiting the UK on the basis of tourist visas (less than 6-months) are, however, not required to pay this fee.
As a general rule, you have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge if,
- You are a resident of a non-EEA county
- You are applying for a long-term visa to study, work, or stay with your family in the UK
- You are applying for the long-term visa (more than six months) but you do not intend to move permanently to the UK
- For applicants applying within the UK, this fee is applicable if you are a national of a country outside the EEA
Who Does Not Have to Pay IHS?
If you are an EU citizen who is exercising free movement rights, you and your dependent family members can use NHS care without paying the IHS.
Similarly, if submitting an application under the EEA regulations or the EU Settlement Scheme, you have to pay this surcharge.
In addition, the following applicants are also exempt:
- Those applying for indefinite leave to enter the UK or remain
- If a diplomat or member of visiting armed forces, and are not subject to immigration control
- If a dependent of a member of the UK’s armed forces
- If a dependent of a member of any other country’s armed forces who’s not subject to immigration control
- If an applicant for a Visa for the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands
- If a dependent/family member of someone with EU Treaty rights
- If a British Overseas Territory citizen located in the Falkland Islands
- If an asylum seeker and applying for protection on humanitarian grounds
- If a domestic worker who has been recognized as a victim of human trafficking/slavery
- If applying for ILR as someone who has been identified as a victim of domestic abuse
Also, you do not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, if applying for the Visit Visa or visa for less than 6-months outside the UK.
You’ll only need an IHS reference number if:
- a minor who has been taken care of by the local authorities
- a civilian employee at NATO or Australian Department of Defence in the UK, or a dependent
If you fall under any of the above-listed categories, you do not have to pay and will be allotted a healthcare surcharge reference number that you can use with your visa application.
IHS Exemptions for Essential Workers during Covid-19
The UK Government has recently announced a change of policy. According to the updated policy, healthcare workers and social care professionals will be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
How Much Is It?
The exact amount that applicants must pay depends on the type of visa you or your dependents are applying for. Click here to calculate how much you’ll have to pay before submitting an application.
Currently, the fee is £400 per annum. This is included in Immigration Order 2018 and is also displayed on the official government website.
This fee is also expected to increase again in October 2020. The increase is planned to ensure that this surcharge fully reflects the full NHS costs of temporary migrants using this service.
From this October, all under-18 applicants will become subject to lower rates.
All in all, have to pay:
- £300 per annum if you’re a student and living in the UK on the basis of Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme Visa)
- £400 for all other applicants
What Happens If You Do Not Pay?
If you do not pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, receive an email from the Home Office.
After receiving an email, have to pay within the 10 working days if you’re inside the UK or 7 working days if you’re outside the UK.
How to Pay the Healthcare Surcharge as Part of Your Application?
As mentioned earlier, if applying online, you have to pay the surcharge as part of your visa application. For this, you must complete the payment process and return to your online application within 30-minutes.
If applying by post, you have to pay the surcharge before you complete or submit your application.
You have to pay IHS using your debit/credit card. In case you’re applying online, you’ll have to provide the start/end dates mentioned on your Certificate of Sponsorship. Similarly, you’ll be asked for the type of visa you’re applying for, your passport number, and your email ID if you’re applying by post.
For those applicants from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should pay by cash at the UK embassy.
What is the Legal Basis for the IHS?
The IHS was first introduced back in 2015 as a statutory instrument under Section 38 of the Immigration Act 2014.
This order was again updated in 2018, which doubled the surcharge fee. Failure to pay the IHS will result in an invalid visa application.
Let us admit it. The IHS has been controversial since its inception.
While it has always been encouraged by the successive ministers, some people believe it puts pressure on the temporary migrants who have already contributed to the NHS via routine taxes.
According to the government, IHS remains competitive by international standards and is beneficial for both temporary migrants as well as the NHS. However, people believe there is confined scope for exemptions, there are provisions for payment by installment.
IHS is expected to increase by this October due to the Coronavirus crisis. Because of this, the IHS issue has again turned into a debatable subject for the migrants who wish to visit the country for study or work purposes.
Notably, the government has already criticism and pressure to exempt essential healthcare workers and social care professionals from IHS.
The government in favour to make changes to the current policy until May 21. But, after an exchange with the Leader of Opposition at PM’s questions, the PM has finally exempted healthcare workers and social care professionals from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
Some people continue to pressurise the government for further changes. A scheme introduced by the UK Government a few weeks ago, to offer free visa extensions for particular categories of healthcare workers (whose visas are about to expire in October 2020) remains in place. Notably, those extensions are not subject to the Immigration Health Surcharge.
It is difficult to predict what other changes the government will announce with respect to the IHS in the month. But, if this surcharge is applicable to you, we hope this guide has addressed some of your queries.