"A good deal for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily"
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes
At the beginning of 2018 the government announced that they were looking at doubling the immigration health surcharge for temporary migrants moving to the UK, meaning most of those migrants would be paying a staggering £400 per year for access to the NHS, while students would be needing to pay a flat fee of £300 for each year they are studying in the UK.
On the government website it now states the doubled IHS fee is likely to be introduced in December of this year, subject to parliamentary approval. The increase should ensure that migrants make a ‘fair contribution’ to the service, immigration minister Caroline Nokes said.
The increase still falls short of the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge, as they had stated they wanted to charge three times the current amount; £600 per year.
This increased charge is considered justified based on the review by the Department of Health and Social Care, which showed the NHS paid an average of £470 a year to treat people who currently pay the surcharge. However, it doesn’t take into account the amount people are paying into the system through NI and tax contributions as full time or part time workers while they are living in the UK.
What is IHS
Immigrants from countries outside of the European Union applying for temporary visas lasting longer than six months must pay an “Immigration Health Surcharge”, often referred to as the IHS surcharge.
Those visiting the UK for six months or less do not have to pay any immigration health surcharge at this point.
The IHS was introduced on the 6th of April 2015 to help fund the NHS. IHS allows foreigners living in the UK on temporary visas access to the services of the NHS, in the same way that British citizens have. Any dependants applying for temporary stay in the UK must also pay their immigration health surcharge for the time they are planning to live in Britain, at the same rate as the main applicant.
Since the introduction in 2015, for each year the applicant is planning to stay in the UK the fee has been at a fixed £200, with exception for students, who must pay £150 for each year.
This means that if, for example, a person is applying for a three-year work visa the immigration health surcharge they must pay totals at £600.
IHS must be paid before a visa application is made. If the health surcharge has not been paid the visa application will automatically be refused.