The Immigration Health Surcharge (“IHS”) is a compulsory fee for non-EEA nationals who apply to enter or remain in the UK to work, study or join family for a period that exceeds 6 months. This applies even to those that hold private medical insurance.
The fee allows non-EEA nationals to use some services on the National Health Service (“NHS”) without additional cost, in the same way as British and EEA nationals. The fee does not exempt certain types of services such as prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests.
Currently, the IHS fee is £400 per year for each year that the visa will be granted, and is payable upfront at the time that the application is submitted. The Home Office has announced that the fee is set to rise to £624 on 1 October 2020.
The UK Government plans to unveil a “new” immigration system from 1 January 2021, requiring all EU and non-EU nationals to enter the UK on an appropriate immigration route and to pay the IHS fee. The change will mark the end of the Brexit Transition Period and the end of Free Movement between the UK and EU Member States.
Whilst there are exemptions to allow some migrants to forego the IHS fee, the majority of non-EU nationals who enter the UK (including those who work within the NHS and as care workers) have been obliged to pay the IHS fee. Boris Johnson’s spokesman has stated that the Prime Minister had asked the Home Office and Department for Health to exempt NHS and care workers “as soon as possible” from the obligation of paying the IHS fee. Whilst more details are expected to be announced shortly, it is expected that the plan will include exemptions for all NHS workers, including porters and cleaners, as well as independent health workers and social care workers.
Whilst there has been much debate over Home Secretary Priti Patel’s proposed immigration plans for 2021, the recent announcement regarding the IHS waiver for NHS workers is a clear indication of the recognition and appreciation of such migrants in the present circumstances.
The Home Office has also recently published a Coronavirus Bereavement Scheme that automatically grants Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK for family members of NHS, health and social care workers who have died as a result of COVID-19. It’s regretful that their service is not appreciated irrespective of the circumstances and only when their lives are on the line.
Gherson has extensive experience with all aspects of UK immigration law. If you have any questions or queries relating to such applications or in relation to the changes as detailed above, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.