Rishi Sunak’s UK Government last week announced an increase to the surcharge facing people using the NHS when applying for a UK visa. In most cases this will see affected people paying an extra £1000 over two and a half years to use the NHS. The proposed increase is still seeking the approval of parliament but is expected to come into effect on 16th January 2024. However, if you are looking to extend your visa to stay in the UK, Ison Harrison can advise on whether you can avoid the increase.
What is the Immigration Health Surcharge?
The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) was introduced in April 2015. It meant that applicants who apply for a UK visa online pay the surcharge when they submit their online application form.
Payment of the IHS allows those applicants who are not exempt from paying it, to use the NHS. However, holding private medical insurance does not negate the need to pay the IHS and migrants still need to pay for certain types of services, such as prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and assisted conception, just as UK citizens do.
Am I exempt from paying the immigration health surcharge?
Whether an applicant is required to pay the IHS depends on the immigration route that they are applying for. For example, an applicant will not be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge if they are:
- applying for a visitor visa
- applying for a visa for 6 months or less from outside the UK (i.e. a Fiance Visa)
- applying for indefinite leave to enter or remainin any route
- applying for a Health and Care Worker visa(or as a dependant of a Health and Care Worker)
- applying to the EU Settlement Scheme
- applying for British Citizenship
- Applying as a dependent of a member of the UK armed forces
- Applying as an asylum seeker
If any of these apply to you, then Ison Harrison can advise on how to complete your application and avoid the IHS. However, if none of these apply to you then you may have to pay the increased surcharge.
How will I be affected by the surcharge increase?
At Ison Harrison we specialise mostly in helping people with family-based visa applications. These types of visas are generally granted for a period of 30 months (two and a half years) and then need to be extended before the visa expires.
Currently the Immigration Health Surcharge is £1,560 for the two and a half year period. After 16th January 2024, and assuming the surcharge increase proposal is approved before this date, this will increase to £2,587.50 for the two and a half year period per person, an increase of £1027.50. Looking at it on an annual basis, currently an adult pays £624 per year for the surcharge, and after 16th January 2024 this will increase to £1035. Anyone under 18 or holding a student status will see an annual increase from £470 to £776.
How Ison Harrison can help with the immigration health surcharge increase
Our immigration department at Ison Harrison specialises in offering clear and coherent advice, and we understand that some people will be anxious about these proposed changes and how they will affect their family. We can advise you and your family on possible exemptions and what you might be able to do to avoid the severest impact of the proposed increase.
- Not everyone will be able to apply early to extend their visa, however those that have their visas expiring on or before 12th February 2024 are able to take advantage of the lower fees currently in place, by submitting their application before the increase on 16th January 2024.
- Also anyone looking to sponsor a spouse or a child from abroad should also consider applying before 16th January 2024 (provided they meet all of the requirements) to avoid paying the higher surcharge.
We have specialist immigration solicitors ready to advise and put your mind at rest, and as one of the leading immigration solicitors in Leeds and Yorkshire, we are perfectly placed to offer the concise and reliable information that you need. If you would like to know whether you are eligible to apply to extend your visa before 16th January 2024 to avoid the surcharge increase for the next two and a half years, then please get in touch with our Immigration Department.