Employment and pensions

UK government announces increase in immigration charges

Published on 14th Jul 2023

Impact of increase in health surcharge and other immigration-related fees will affect employers of foreign nationals 

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The government has stated that overseas nationals will play a key role in funding the public sector pay rises that it announced on 13 July 2023. As part of this, immigration health surcharge payments will be increased. 

The immigration health surcharge  is paid as part of a UK visa application. It permits visa holders to use the National Health Service in the UK during the validity of their immigration permission. The surcharge is payable by both the main applicant and their dependants.

Increase in charges 

The surcharge will increase from £624 to £1,035 per year of the visa. This will be paid by workers entering for a period of six months or more and the family members of migrants and British citizens alike. 

The discounted rate for students, children and youth mobility visa holders will be increased from £470 to £776 per year.

Immigration and nationality fees will also be increased. Work and visit visas will rise by 15%. Student visas, certificates of sponsorship, settlement, citizenship, entry clearance and leave to remain applications by “at least 20%”.

Other changes

The government has also announced the following additional changes:

  • the biometric enrolment fee of £19.20 will be abolished
  • the transfer of conditions fee of £161 will be abolished
  • fees will no longer be charged for amending details on physical documents such as name, sex marker, nationality and photograph
  • fees will also be abolished for like-for-like replacement of a biometric residence permit where the document has expired

Impact on employers

These changes will have a significant effect on the budget assessments for UK employers employing foreign nationals. The government has yet to officially confirm when this change in fees will be implemented. 

Employers are already using "claw back" clauses for migrant workers – this is a clause providing for a migrant worker sponsored as a Skilled Worker under the points-based system to repay some, or all, of the fees paid by the employer. Although this provides protection for employers, it cannot  leave the employee trapped and unable to leave the country or move to another job in the UK. 

Employers should give careful consideration to the design and drafting of claw back clauses to ensure they are fair, reasonable and enforceable.  In particular, not all the fees can be included (the certificate of sponsorship and immigration skills charge cannot be included).

Looking ahead

Businesses using or seeking to use the UK immigration system to employ foreign nationals will need to reassess their budgets and application strategies in light of the cost changes proposed. 

Businesses may prefer to make an immigration application sooner rather than later,  to avoid additional cost.

If you would like to discuss the topics raised in this Insight, please contact one of the experts below.


* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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