The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is set to increase to £624 per year for most visa applicants. The increase will come into force on the 27th October 2020.
Previously, the date for the Immigration Health Surcharge to increase was 1st October. However, the new Order was only signed on the 6th October, and comes into force 21 days after that. Hence the new start date of the 27th October 2020 for the increased charges.
What is the Immigration Health Surcharge increase and how much is it?
The surcharge was first introduced by the Home Office in April 2015. The IHS is payable alongside the Home Office application fee. Although it is described as a ‘healthcare surcharge’, the funds raised as not solely provided to the NHS but may go towards a number of government spending commitments.
The IHS doubled in price in January 2019. However, on 11th March 2020 the government confirmed that the IHS will increase again:
- From £300 to £470 per year of leave for students and those who hold a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa; and
- From £400 to £624 per year of leave for all other visa and immigration applicants. Children under the age of 18 will be charged a discounted rate of £470 per year.
The increased surcharge will have a significant impact on the overall cost of making an immigration application.
For example, the cost of an entry clearance application for a partner is currently £2,723, consisting of the £1,523 Home Office application fee and £1,200 Immigration Health Surcharge. The new total cost for the same application will be £3,395, which is an additional £672.
The increased surcharge also adds up when applicants are applying with dependants. For example, the total cost of an in-country extension application for a family of two adults and one child under 18 will increase from £6,099 to £7,394, an additional £1295.
Will I have to pay the increased Immigration Health Surcharge?
If you’re preparing an immigration application, you can avoid paying the increased fee if you submit your application and pay for the IHS before 27th October 2020.If you are applying online, the relevant date will be the date that you submit your application online and pay the fee (even if your biometrics appointment ends up being after the date the IHS increases).
It is also worth noting that the IHS fee is not payable by those who are applying for indefinite leave to remain.
I work for the NHS – do I have to pay the Immigration Health surcharge?
Earlier this year the government also announced its intention to exempt all NHS workers, health and social care staff from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge. However, there was considerable confusion about who exactly would benefit from the exemption and why some NHS staff were still paying the IHS as part of their applications.
At present, eligible Tier 2 workers who have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge since 31st March 2020 should be contacted by the Home Office and offered a refund.
Moving forward, workers eligible for the new Health and Care visa (Tier 2 General) and their dependants will not be required to pay the IHS as part of their application. For health and social care professionals who are not eligible for this visa, the IHS will still be payable as part of their application but applicants can then claim a reimbursement, which may take up to 6 months to process. The government is yet to clarify how the exemption will be implemented in future to prevent workers having to pay and wait for a refund.
It may also be possible to apply for a Fee Waiver to avoid paying the increased fee if you are eligible. Fee Waivers are available for certain family and private life human rights applications and applications made by victims of trafficking or slavery.
If a Fee Waiver application is successful you will not be required to pay the IHS or the Home Office application fee, or you may only need to pay for one of these. To make a successful Fee Waiver application you must demonstrate that you cannot afford to pay the fee, or that you are destitute or at risk of imminent destitution. You can also make a successful application if you can demonstrate that your income is not sufficient to meet a child’s particular and additional needs, or that you are faced with exceptional financial circumstances preventing you from paying.
However, if a Fee Waiver application is unsuccessful you will be required to submit your application and pay both for the Home Office application fee and IHS within 10 days of the Fee Waiver decision. If a negative decision on your Fee Waiver arrives before 27th October 2020, you may still be able to pay the lower IHS fee is you can submit your online form before it increases. . If your negative decision arrives after the IHS increases, however, you will likely have to pay the increased IHS when you submit your application.
What can I do next?
If you have any questions about the Immigration Health Surcharge increase or your upcoming immigration application, you can schedule a conversation with a member of our team at https://otb.legal/schedule-your-appointment.