Immigration Health Surcharge set to double

Written on 21 Dec 2018

On the 22 November 2018 the UK Parliament approved legislation to double the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The change will come into force 20 days after the legislation is signed by a Minister. This does not appear to have happened yet, so it is currently (as at 20 December 2018) unclear when the change will come into effect. We will provide a further update once the date for this change to come into effect is known.

What is the IHS?

The IHS is the method through which individuals applying for certain visas contribute to the National Health Service and are granted access to it. Currently the IHS is £200 per year with the exception of those applying under Tier 4 and the Youth Mobility Scheme, who pay £150 per year. The IHS is paid by those wanting to enter the UK for longer than 6 months for work, study or family reasons.

At present and individual applying for a visa for up to three years under Tier 2 (General) for example, will pay £600 contribution through IHS. This will increase to £1200 in due course.

The Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes provided the following explanation for the increase in a written statement to Parliament on 11 October 2018:

Our NHS is always there when you need it, paid for by British taxpayers. We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but believe it is right that they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability. That is why we introduced the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) in April 2015.

Today we have laid before Parliament in accordance with section 38 of the Immigration Act 2014, ‘The Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2018’. The Order, which is subject to the affirmative procedure, seeks to double the IHS to £400 per annum. Students, as well as those on the Youth Mobility Scheme, will continue to receive a discounted rate of £300. The Order also makes some minor technical amendments to provide greater clarity about exchange rates, when payments are made in foreign currencies.

The proposed amount is still below full average cost recovery level and remains a good deal for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily. These changes do not affect permanent residents, who are not required to pay the IHS. Certain vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and modern slavery victims are exempt from paying the IHS. Short-term migrants (including those on visitor visas) and those without permission to be in the UK are generally charged for secondary care treatment by the NHS at the point of access.

This is a significant increase in costs to employers who want to (or need to) sponsor overseas workers. Employers should consider obtaining specialised employment law assistance to ensure you have the correct claw backs in place in relation to these fees.

If you require any further information about this or how it may affect future application, please feel free to contact us.