Applicants who are seeking to enter the United Kingdom or remain in the United Kingdom will soon need to budget their incomes, as there is a significant fee increase, anticipated to step into action on the 16th of January 2024. The spike in IHS fees has been sparked by the Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order of 2023, which is in its final stages of parliamentary approval.
What does this mean for applicants?
The Immigration Health Surcharge is a mandatory pre-requisite for any applicant seeking UK leave to remain or entry clearance. It is essentially a way for applicants to access the UK’s accommodating NHS services during the duration of their stay. The current fees, as of October 2023, stand at £624 per year of stay. However, this is soon to be overridden with the new fees that will see a soaring increase of 66% or £1,035 annually for most people applying.
Exceptions to the 66% rise:
Certain categories of visas will see a slightly negligible increase. Applicants who are students, on the Youth Mobility Scheme and those under the age of 18 will pay £776 annually, up from the current £470. However, it is expected that all applicants should brace themselves for the impact of costs associated with the Immigration Health Surcharge.
The origins of the Immigration Health Surcharge:
The Immigration Health Surcharge came into action in 2015 to stabilize the pressures that came upon the NHS from immigration inflows. The fees contributed to direct NHS funding. In line with the rising and continued demand for NHS services, has the rationale for fee increases been founded.
How to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge fees?
The fees have traditionally been paid in full and in advance of the main visa application submission. The payment covers the full duration of the applicant’s visa and will allow them to access the NHS’s services. Therefore, the raised fee will be reflected in the higher upfront costs for applicants who are looking to enter or remain in the UK for a longer period.
The Fundamentals of the Immigration Health Surcharge:
There are several cornerstones to the Immigration Health Surcharge which are useful for all applicants applying to enter or remain in the UK. Listed below are some of the considerations and requirements of the Immigration Health Surcharge which are salient to an applicant:
- Fees are to be paid online via debit or credit card.
- Fees are mandatory for nearly all types of UK visa routes, varying from student visas down to family visas. Visitors on a short-term category of stay are predominantly exempt.
- Example 1: the applicant intends to come to the UK on a 2-year long-term standard visitor visa. Although 2 years seems like a relatively long-term stay, the maximum length of stay per visit is 6 months, therefore this kind of applicant would be exempt from IHS.
- Example 2: the applicant intends to come to the UK on a visitor visa for academics. The visit term for this kind of applicant is 12 months. This applicant however would be required to pay IHS.
- You and your dependents who are included in your UK visa application will be covered by the payment.
- In the unfortunate event that your application is rejected or withdrawn, you may request an IHS refund
What to do before the January 2024 change?
Applicants who can submit their applications should promptly do so to circumvent the fee increase. The Home Office typically informs of such fee changes weeks in advance of the change, so applicants should remain aware and vigilant of such changes that can impact their application.
We understand that this may be a predicament for some applicants and can be a stressful time without further guidance and assistance. Here at Farani Taylor Solicitors, our specialist immigration team are well-versed in providing professional advice about the Immigration Health Surcharge. We will ensure that you comprehend the requirements of the Immigration Health Surcharge and can further assist you in completing visa requirements for your application before the fee increase becomes effective.