NHS Surcharge for Migrants in the UK

The Home Office, as part of a reform programme led by the Department of Health, has taken steps to ensure that temporary migrants coming to live in the UK are contributing to the cost of their NHS healthcare. Temporary migrants are now required to pay a surcharge when making an immigration application (including migrants applying for extension applications). It is estimated that the surcharge will raise £1.7 billion towards the running of the NHS over the next ten years.  
 

Who will pay the NHS Surcharge?

–          Non-EEA nationals, who apply to come to the UK to work, study or join family for a time-limited period of more than 6 months.

–          Non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and applying to extend their stay.

Please note – the surcharge does not apply to Indefinite Leave to Remain applications. Those who pay the surcharge will be able to access the NHS in the same way as a permanent UK resident.
 

Who is exempt?

–          EEA nationals

–          Visitors

–          Migrants where the grant of entry clearance (permission to stay in the UK) is for 6 months or less

–          Intra-company transfers (Tier 2 – skilled workers)

–          Children under 18 years taken into care or in the care of a local authority

–          Migrants making an application for asylum, humanitarian protection, or a claim that their removal from the United Kingdom would be contrary to article 3 of the European Convention on       Human Rights

–          Victims of human trafficking

–          A migrant who applies under the Home Office concession known as the “destitute domestic violence concession”

–          Dependents of a member of Her Majesty”s Forces

–          As a dependant of a member of another country”s Forces who is exempt from Immigration Control

–          Those making an immigration application related to an EU obligation, such as an application under the Turkish European Communities Association Agreement, are exempt

–          Nationals of Australia or New Zealand (the UK and these countries already have reciprocal healthcare agreements whereby visitors and temporary migrants from those countries are entitled to some treatment free of charge on the NHS)

–          A British Overseas Territory citizen who is a resident of the Falkland Islands

Please note – Whilst Tier 2 intra-company transferees, Australian and New Zealand nationals are exempt from paying the surcharge, they must still complete an additional step for their immigration application through the surcharge web site. They will be informed the payment is nil but receive a unique surcharge reference number. This number is needed for their immigration application to confirm their exemption from the surcharge.
 

How much is the surcharge?

The surcharge is set at £200 per year and £150 per year for students, with dependants paying the same amount as the main applicant. Payment of the surcharge will be a mandatory requirement at the outset of the immigration application process.

As the surcharge is calculated on a yearly basis, if a migrant applies for a grant of stay of 3 years, they will be required to pay the charge in full for the 3 year period at the point of application for their visa. As an example, a student coming to study in the UK for 3 years would be required to pay £450 on top of their visa application fee.

Note that if an application is refused or rejected, the applicant will be automatically refunded the surcharge (but not the visa application fee).

To provide you with an indication of how the surcharge will affect the total cost of an application, please see below a comparison of fees for a Tier 2 General Migrant with 1, 2 and 3 dependent family members.  Figures given in parentheses are the fees in place before 6 April 2015.. 

Tier 2 General Entry Clearance – 3 years

Applicant

UKVI Application Fee

NHS Surcharge

Total Cost

Main applicant

£564

£600

£1164 (£514)

Main applicant + 1 Dependants

£1128

£1200

£2328 (£1028)

Main applicant + 2 Dependants

£1692

£1800

£3492 (£1542)

Main applicant + 3 Dependants

£2256

£2400

£4656 (£2056)

Tier 2 General Leave to Remain – 3 years

Applicant

UKVI Application Fee

NHS Surcharge

Total Cost

Main applicant

£651

£600

£1251 (£601)

Main applicant + 1 Dependants

£1302

£1200

£2502 (£1202)

Main applicant + 2 Dependants

£1953

£1800

£3753 (£1803)

Main applicant + 3 Dependants

£2604

£2400

£5004 (£2404)

Can the applicant take out private healthcare insurance instead?

Some individuals may decide to take out private healthcare insurance in addition. However, the Home Office considers this a personal decision and the individual will still ne required to pay the surcharge, as in the case of a medical emergency, it is still the NHS which will be providing treatment.

Conclusion

Going forward, all applicants should ensure they have made the requisite payment for the surcharge at the point of submitting the application. Applicants making in-country applications at a Home Office Premium Service Centre in the UK will need to pay the surcharge online prior to the appointment.

As illustrated in the table above, the cost for an application can quickly escalate depending on the visa duration. Therefore sponsors would be advised to restrict the total duration of a worker”s assignment to the most realistic timeframe possible in performance of the role, since the fee is not refundable if the applicant leaves the UK earlier than planned and it must be paid in full for each year at the application stage.

If you require assistance or advice on any of the points mentioned in this article, please contact us.  

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