Draft statutory instrument now laid before Parliament confirms that the date for the proposed increase of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will be 16 January 2024.
At present the Immigration Health Surcharge standard fee for applicants over the age of 18 is £624 per year. This figure will increase to £1035.
Dependent children under the age of 18, students and their dependants and Youth Mobility applicants are currently charged £470 per year. This will increase to £776.
The is no IHS for Heath and Care Workers or for people applying for entry clearance or permission to stay under Ukraine Scheme and there is no change in this respect.
How the increase of the IHS will impact a family of 4
Let us consider an example of a family of four – two adults with two children applying for leave to enter as a Skilled Worker with dependants coming to the UK for 3 years.
Currently, a family of 4 with the main applicant as a sponsored Skilled Worker, but not a Health and Care Worker, pay £624 x 3 x 2 = £3744 for the two adults, and £470 x 3 x 2 = £2820 for the two children. In total this adds up to £6564.
After 16 January 2024, the figures will be £1035 x 3 x 2 = £6210 for the adults and £776 x 3 x 2 = £4656 for the children, making the total of £10,866.
It is often the sponsor who covers the visa fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge for their employees, but this is not set in stone and often the visa applicants have to pay their visa fees, or at least the visa fees for the dependent family members. Their ability to pay these fees will to a large degree depend on what country they are coming from and the salaries they receive before moving to the UK.
This will make the immigration policy all the more discriminatory.
You can still sign this petition and ask the government not to increase the Immigration Health Surcharge beyond it's current level.
Who has to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge
Anyone applying for a visa to work or study in the UK or to join their family for a period of more than six months have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. Also, people with a temporary status in the UK applying for extension or a variation of their immigration status have to pay the IHS. There is an exemption for he Health and Care Workers and for people applying under Ukraine Family Scheme, but generally it is charged across all types of visas.
The payment is specific to the visa application and persons who already have permission to stay but have to change their immigration status, have to pay the IHS second time.
The amount of the IHS is a fixed amount linked to the duration of the visa. It does not take into account the likely usage of the NHS, pre-existing health conditions or availability of a private medical insurance.
Who is affected the most by the IHS increase
Ironically, the worst impact of the IHS increase falls on the Skilled Workers – the category of migrants which, at least ostensibly, the government does not intend to drive out.
As shown in the above example, a family of a skilled worker with 3 dependants face £10,866 in Immigration Health Surcharge for a three-year visa. And another payment equal to two thirds of this amount if they decide to stay for a further two years leading to Indefinite Leave to Remain.
In addition, the Skilled Worker will be significantly out of pocket if they decide to change employment during the initial visa period, as they would have to pay the IHS once again.
Skilled Workers are in a most vulnerable category in this respect, as no other visa is conditioned on staying with the nominated employer. The Scale-Up route allows the visa holder to change employment once their initial six months sponsorship is complete. Partner of spouse visa is conditioned on the continuing family relationship, but not employment with the same employer.
The economic model of financing the crumbling NHS through immigration is completely unrealistic and is likely to defeat both the interest of skilled workers from outside the UK and any attempts to save the NHS.