UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled a proposal to implement a substantial 66% increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). If approved, this hike will see the surcharge rise from £624 to £1,035 per person per year. Additionally, the discounted rate for students, their dependents, and Youth Mobility Scheme applicants will surge from £470 to £776 per year, while all children under 18 will be subject to a £776 surcharge. This move is part of the government’s efforts to raise funds for a pay raise for public sector workers and address ongoing industrial action.
Understanding the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
The IHS is a fee collected from individuals applying for a UK visa that allows them to reside in the country for more than six months. It serves as a funding mechanism for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), providing visa holders access to essential healthcare services during their stay. By paying the IHS upfront alongside the visa application, the individual secures coverage for the duration of their visa, ensuring they won’t face additional medical costs during their stay.
Calculating the Impact of the Proposed IHS Increase
To illustrate the impact of the proposed increase, let’s consider a scenario where an individual applies for a five-year visa. Under the current IHS fee of £624, the health surcharge payable would amount to £3,210. However, if the proposal is enacted, applicants for a five-year visa would be required to pay a staggering £5,175 upfront for the IHS alone, on top of their visa application fees.
Exemptions from Paying the Immigration Health Surcharge
While the IHS applies to the majority of visa applicants, there are exemptions in place for certain categories of individuals. Those exempted from paying the surcharge include:
Applicants for indefinite leave to enter or remain.
Health and care workers eligible for a Health and Care Worker visa, as well as their dependents.
Individuals applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Diplomats or members of visiting armed forces who are not subject to immigration control.
Dependents of members of the UK’s armed forces.
Dependents of members of other countries’ armed forces who are exempt from immigration control.
Applicants for visas to the Isle of Man or Channel Islands.
British Overseas Territory citizens residing in the Falkland Islands.
Asylum seekers or those applying for humanitarian protection, along with their dependents.
Domestic workers identified as victims of slavery or human trafficking, and their dependents.
Individuals applying for discretionary leave to remain in the UK as victims of slavery or human trafficking, and their dependents.
Those covered under the Home Office’s domestic violence concession, and their dependents.
Individuals whose removal from the UK would violate their rights under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and their dependents.
S2 Healthcare Visitors.
Frontier Worker permit holders with an S1 certificate.
As of now, there has been no official announcement regarding the effective date for the proposed fee changes. Those considering immigration to the UK are advised to seek guidance from immigration advisers to understand their next steps and potential implications.
The UK government’s proposal to significantly increase the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is intended to generate additional revenue to support a pay raise for public sector workers and resolve ongoing industrial action. If approved, the surcharge will undergo a substantial 66% rise, impacting all individuals applying for UK visas for stays exceeding six months. While the proposal’s implementation timeline remains uncertain, those affected are urged to stay informed and consult with immigration advisers to navigate the potential financial implications.