The Government announced on 13 October 2023 that the increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will come into force in January 2024.
The IHS increase forms part of the Government’s review of fees across the immigration and nationality system. We previously highlighted that the application fees for the majority of UK immigration and nationality applications increased on 04 October 2023.
The change to the IHS will be particularly significant for most applicants with the standard IHS fee rising by a staggering 66%.
The draft legislation is yet to be approved by Parliament but once this is done, the Order will be ratified.
It is currently anticipated that the change will come into force on 16 January 2024, or slightly later depending on exactly when the Order is laid.
What is the IHS?
The IHS is mandatory for most visa applicants and is usually payable alongside the application fee. It is charged per year of permission requested. Payment of the IHS enables migrants to gain access to the National Health Service in the UK, throughout the duration of their visa.
Individuals who usually qualify for an IHS exemption are visitors to the UK, people applying under the EU Settlement Scheme and those who have applied under the Health and Care provisions. The Home Office has confirmed that the staff of the National Health Service and their dependants will remain exempt from the IHS. Additionally, those applying for immigration permission with a duration of less than six months from outside the UK are exempt from paying the IHS.
The IHS has not risen since October 2020 and the Home Office’s position, set out in the draft Explanatory Memorandum, is that ‘the increases to the Health Charge reflect the increased cost of healthcare provision and the extra pressures which migrant driven population growth is placing on the NHS’.
IHS increase per year of permission
Whilst the majority of work and visit visa application fees have risen by approximately 15%, rumours that the IHS increase would be the most significant jump have turned out to be true. The IHS is currently £624 per year for adults and £470 per year for children, students, student dependants and individuals who have applied under the Youth Mobility Scheme route. The fee for the former has now been confirmed as rising to £1,035 per year, with the latter rising to £776 per year.
Mr X, a single skilled worker who is on a five-year visa, would currently pay £3,120 for the IHS (£624 per year of sponsorship). However, after the fee increase in 2024, he would be paying £5,175 for the IHS (£1,035 per year of sponsorship).
Mr Y is applying for a one-year visa along with his wife and child. They would currently pay £1,718 for the IHS (£1,248 for the two parents + £470 for the child). However, after the fee increase, they would pay £2,846 for the IHS (£2,070 for the two parents + £776 for the child).
Can immigration applications be submitted earlier?
In short, yes. We would recommend that employers who are planning to sponsor workers and individuals who are intending to make a relevant immigration application assess if the application can be submitted before the increase is introduced.
It is possible to submit an in-country application earlier than the current expiry date and, in some cases, there may be a significant cost-saving in doing so. However, it is important that timings are also carefully considered. Filing an application too early can mean a further application, and critically a further set of applications fees, is needed before ILR can be obtained.
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