The Government has laid before Parliament The Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2018. If the Order receives Parliamentary approval, the Immigration Health Surcharge (“IHS") will double from its present rates.
The IHS is a charge which anyone applying to live or remain in the UK on a work, study or family visa for longer than 6 months must pay. The Home Office estimates that the NHS spends £470 on average per person per year on treating those required to pay the IHS.
The proposals will see the surcharge increase from £200 to £400 per year for non-EU nationals, whilst students and those on the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme will pay a discounted rate of £300 per year.
The changes do not affect permanent residents or those applying for indefinite leave to remain who are not required to pay the surcharge. Certain vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and modern slavery victims are also exempt.
The increase is set to come into effect in December 2018 subject to Parliamentary approval. Any application for entry clearance or leave to remain made before the coming into effect of the new order will be subject to the IHS at the existing lower rates.
The increase is likely to have a significant impact on lower income couples and families already hit hard by the financial requirements of Appendix FM and existing visa and IHS fees.. For employers recruiting overseas workers through Tier 2, it is yet a further expense to sit alongside sponsorship and visa fees and the Immigration Skills Levy.
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