Changes to the Immigration Health Surcharge

Implemented in April 2015, the Immigration Health Surcharge (“IHS”) is a mandatory payment for most UK Visas and Immigration Applicants who are applying for a UK visa for longer than 6 months. For most UK visas, the Immigration Health Surcharge is currently £400 per year of the visa, however it was confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak during the Budget that from 1 October 2020 this will increase to £624 per year. There are some exemptions to having to pay the IHS fee; including the widely reported decision made yesterday for migrant NHS workers and care staff to be added to these exemptions. This is probably largely due to the ongoing care they are providing during the COVID-19 pandemic; including the Prime Minister himself. Our Immigration Solicitors in London help prepare successful UK Visas and Immigration applications to the Home Office and we inform our clients of the amount they will need to pay for the Immigration Heath Surcharge and how to successfully pay it. Failure to pay the incorrect fee can result in applications being invalidated.

Immigration Health Surcharge for NHS workers

Yesterday on 21 May 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson did a U-turn in announcing that migrant NHS workers and care staff will be exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge. This comes after pressure from the opposition party as well as his own MPs. Therefore, as a thank you to all the hard work and bravery of NHS workers and care workers during this pandemic, they will not need to pay the increasingly high surcharge to use the service that they are providing to others. This has been met with much praise from around the UK and relief from many foreign healthcare workers. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer  labelled this a “victory for common decency”.

How much is the immigration health surcharge?

Currently, the Immigration Health Surcharge is £400 per year of the visa for most Applicants, except for students and Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa holders who pay £300 per year of their visa. Dependents on all applications are also required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. From 1 October 2020 this fee will increase to £624 per year and £470 for students and Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa holders.

Applicants can check online to see how much Immigration Health Surcharge they need to pay.

What does the immigration health surcharge cover?

The Immigration Health Surcharge allows migrants access to NHS services such as making GP appointments and hospital visits. Migrants should always bring their Biometric Residence Permit with them whenever they access healthcare in the UK.

Migrants will still need to pay for certain types of services such as prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and assisted conception, as do most British citizens.

How much is immigration health surcharge for spouse visa?

For a spouse visa (valid for 2.5 years) the total Immigration Health Surcharge fee will cost £1,000 under the current fees. From 1 October 2020 this will rise to £1,560 for the initial 2.5 year visa. Applicants will then need to pay the IHS fee again with the extension application.

For example, a person on a spouse visa (5 year settlement route) will pay a total of £2,000 in IHS under the current circumstances. A person on a spouse visa (10 year settlement route) will pay a total of £4,000 in IHS under the current circumstances.

How do I get my immigration health surcharge refund?

Immigration Health Surcharge refunds are automatically paid to the account or card it was paid with. Full refunds are given if an Applicant has paid twice or if their application is refused or withdrawn.

Applicants will receive a partial refund if the visa application is successful but they are granted less time on the visa than was asked for or for any dependants included in the visa application but are refused.

Applicants will usually receive the refund within 6 weeks of the decision on the application. It can take longer if an Applicant appeals the decision if the application is refused. No refunds will be given if an Applicant is granted their visa but then they choose not to come to the UK.

Who is exempt from IHS surcharge?

Applicants who are applying for UK visas for a period of 6 months or less do not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge; for example, visitor visa or fiancé visa Applicants. These Applicants will need to pay for any NHS care at the point they use it, unless it’s a service that’s free. The following are also exempt from paying the IHS fee:

  • diplomats or members of a visiting armed forces who are not subject to immigration control;
  • dependant family members of the UK’s armed forces;
  • dependant of a members of another country’s armed forces who are exempt from immigration control;
  • family members of EU nationals in the UK exercising Treaty Rights in line with the EU Regulations or Immigration Rules Appendix EU (EU Settlement Scheme) – however, once the Brexit transitional period has ended, EU nationals will then start having to pay the IHS fee, in line with the rules for non-EEA nationals;
  • Applicants applying for a visa for the Isle of Man or Channel Islands;
  • British Overseas Territory citizens resident in the Falkland Islands;
  • Asylum seekers or those applying for humanitarian protection (including dependants);
  • domestic workers who have been identified as a victim of slavery or human trafficking;
  • Applicants for discretionary leave to remain in the UK as someone who has been identified as a victim of slavery or human trafficking (including dependants);
  • if the Home Office’s domestic violence concession applies (including dependants); and
  • if being made to leave the UK would be against their rights under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (including dependants).

Do I need to pay NHS surcharge for ILR?

No, indefinite leave to remain (i.e. settlement) Applicants do not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This is because having indefinite leave to remain means having many of the same rights as British citizens in that they are free from immigration restrictions and are entitled to benefits; including access to NHS services without having to pay at the point of access (where applicable). As mentioned above, services such as eye tests and prescriptions will still need to be paid for as normal (where applicable).

Using our Immigration Solicitors in London to submit a UK Visas and Immigration Application

Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct a legal representative to submit your UK visa application.

Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.

This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.

Successful UK Visa and Immigration Applications with our Immigration Solicitors in London

Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your applications before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your immigration or visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.

Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.

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