The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is currently paid by non-EEA nationals who are applying to come to the UK for more than six months to work, study or join family. It is also paid by those applying for limited leave to remain. The charge is currently set at an annual rate of £200 per individual, or a reduced rate of £150 for students and those under the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme). The Home Office has however announced this week that this rate is set to double.
The Immigration Health Surcharge is payable when an immigration application is made. Those who have paid the charge are then exempt from NHS charges for treatment in the same way as any British or EU citizen living in the UK.
The Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, has defended the increase stating that “it is only right that people who come to the UK should contribute to the running of the NHS” and that “the surcharge offers access to healthcare services that are far more comprehensive and at a much lower cost than many other countries”.
The Immigration Health Surcharge has caused controversy since its inception in 2015. Many people are of the opinion that, in particular, those coming to the UK to work already help to fund the NHS through the payment of taxes and National Insurance and should not be subject to an additional charge.
Whilst the date of the proposed increase has not yet been announced, it is expected to take place this year and we would therefore recommend that those who are considering making an application take this into account when deciding on the time-frame for their immigration application.