The Government has confirmed its manifesto commitment to increase the Immigration Health Surcharge (also known as the IHS) from its current level of £400 per year to £624 from October 2020.
The Immigration Health Surcharge is levied against all temporary non-EEA migrants holding a UK visa for more than 6 months. From 1 January 2021, the surcharge will also be levied against new EEA nationals and their dependants, i.e. those not already in the UK by 31 December 2020.
To cost an example, a family of four coming to the UK for 5 years in a work based category will incur Immigration Health Surcharge fees alone of £12,480. These are in addition to the Home Office’s visa fees, however, it has been announced that the visa fees at least, will remain unchanged in 2020.
The Immigration Health Surcharge is meant to represent an upfront payment to the NHS and thereafter permits free access to healthcare. In practice, migrants pay twice both through their income tax and through the IHS.
It seems that the Government’s strategy to reduce net migration is essentially to price all but the wealthiest out of coming to the UK. This will increase the cost to employers seeking to fill skills gaps and have a barely imaginable impact on lower income families seeking to live together in the UK.