On 16 October 2023 the UK Government announced a significant 66% increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). This increase was initially to be enforced on 16 January 2024, however, following a debate in the House of Commons on 10 January 2024, it has now been decided that the increase in IHS fees cannot be implemented earlier than 31 January 2024.
This blog will look into what the IHS fee is, whom it affects, how much it will increase by and the motive behind the UK Government’s decision to increase it.
The IHS fee is a payment that most migrants make when submitting a UK visa application in order to contribute towards the cost of the National Health Service (NHS), since the NHS is available to everyone residing in the UK without a limit to how much you can use it. The UK Government believed that it would be fair for migrants moving to the UK to also contribute to sustaining the free healthcare available.
The IHS is not applicable to everyone; usually, it extends to individuals applying for entry clearance for 6 months or more, or if they are applying within the UK for any length of time. However, the IHS charge will not apply to individuals submitting applications for indefinite leave to remain in the UK or for naturalisation as British citizens. The current charge for the IHS is £624 per adult applicant per year, in accordance with the duration of the visa granted. For child applicants (under the age of 18), the charge is £470 per applicant, for each year of the visa duration granted. The fee is paid in one lump sum at the time of submission of the online application.
The 66% increase
Following the increase in the IHS charge, now set to be enforced no earlier than 31 January 2024, applicants will face a fee of almost 66% higher than the current fee. Adult applicants can expect to face fees as high as £1,035 per year (instead of the current fee of £624) and child applicants will be charged £776 per year (instead of the current fee of £470).
Please note, if you do not pay the IHS fee with your visa application, your application will be deemed as invalid and will be rejected. However, if your application is withdrawn or refused, you can apply for a refund of the fee.
Who does not have to pay the IHS fee?
The IHS charge does not apply to all individuals applying, including individuals applying for the following:
- EU Settlement Scheme
- Health and Care workers
- Fiancé(e) visas
- Ukraine Scheme
There is a fee waiver for individuals who may not be able to afford to pay the IHS fee, but you must provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that you cannot afford to pay the fee.
With the increase in application fees in October 2023 (please refer to our previous blog here), fees associated with applying for a UK visa are becoming increasingly unaffordable for employers and families in particular, which is likely to decrease overall net migration into the UK.
How Gherson can assist
Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on X, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.
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 do not 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.