In October this year, the Government announced plans to double the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). We covered the announcement here. Carter Thomas associate Jessica Walker considers the potential go-live date.
With the IHS rising, for most applications, from £200 to £400 per year, the exact date of the increase is important for many who are preparing an application.
The increase to the IHS was discussed recently in Parliament and, after much debate, The Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2018, which is the legal mechanism for the increase, was approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
The draft legislation states that:
“this Order…comes into force on the twenty-first day after the day on which it is made”.
As the legislation was approved by the House of Lords on 28 November 2018, the increase to the IHS could therefore come into force any time from 19 December 2018.
The date has not yet been confirmed by the Home Office and we will update our website as soon as a date is confirmed. Once it is confirmed, we expect that a rush of applications will be submitted to the Home Office before the increase comes into force.
Can the new immigration application system cope?
We think the timing could be problematic.
Right now the Home Office is in the middle of rolling out a new immigration application process with a new commercial partner, Sopra Steria. Whilst some applications filed via the new system are being dealt with in the streamlined and efficient way that was promised in the marketing material for it, there are still some issues with some aspects of the IT system, some of the centres (some of which are yet to be opened), and some staff (yet to be trained). There are also some applications which cannot as yet be filed via the new system.
We therefore hope that the Home Office will delay the date of the IHS increase to avoid a spike in in-country applications until the system is fully operational.