Most UK immigration applications where an individual is applying for permission to enter or remain in the UK for more than 6 months, will require payment of the ‘immigration health surcharge’ (IHS). This includes those applying for Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility and Student Visas.
This charge relates to the UK’s state healthcare system, the National Health Service. Payment of the IHS entitles foreign nationals to free NHS hospital treatment on the same basis as an ordinarily resident person. Payment of the IHS is mandatory, even if the visa applicant does not use the NHS or has their own private health insurance.
The total amount payable for the IHS depends on the length of the visa being applied for. Currently, the annual IHS fee for adult applicants is £624 per person and £470 per person for children and student applicants (and their dependents). Therefore, for an adult applying for a five year work visa, the total amount of the IHS is £3,120, which is payable in full at the time of making their immigration application.
The UK Government announced in July 2023 that it proposed to increase the IHS as part of its strategy to fund public sector pay rises. It has subsequently been announced this week that the IHS will increase with effect from 16 January 2024.
From 16 January 2024, the IHS will increase to £1,035 per person per year for adults and £776 per person per year for children and student applicants. Adults applying for a five year work visa will now be faced with a huge £5,175 charge which will need to be paid up front when making their immigration application.
UK employers sponsoring foreign nationals to work in the UK will need to consider how these changes are likely to affect their budgets and current strategies. Whilst technically the IHS is payable by the visa applicant and not their employer, many employers struggling to fill vacancies or in need of specialist skills will agree to meet this cost on behalf of their employees. We therefore recommend that, where possible, sponsorship and immigration applications should be made ahead of the fee rise.
For further information or advice on any business immigration matters, please contact a member of our Immigration team.