How to Get Your Immigration Health Surcharge Refund
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is respected and revered internationally for providing extremely high-quality, cutting-edge healthcare at no cost to those who need it. Whether you require a GP consultation, dental treatment, advice from a specialist, surgery, mental health services, or rehabilitation, this is all available to those who are eligible for free. For migrants coming to live, work, and study in the UK, however, accessing the NHS is not free as they are required to pay the immigration health surcharge (IHS) when applying for a visa. The cost of the IHS is not insignificant, especially for those applying for long-term (e.g. five years) visas and those coming with family members. This is because the IHS must be paid in one go when applying for a visa for each person included in the application and for the whole expected duration of the visa. This raises several questions for many applicants; will I get a refund if my visa application is not successful? What if one person of several included in an application is refused, but the rest are granted? Will the Home Office refund you if you don’t receive the duration of the visa you expected? Will I get a refund if my employer dismisses me before my visa expires? In this article, we will explain how you can get an immigration health surcharge refund and how much you may receive back.
What Is UK Visas And Immigration’s Policy On Refunding The IHS?
Thankfully, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) acknowledge that in several situations, a refund of the IHS is warranted. UKVI will issue a refund to a person who has paid the IHS if:
- They paid the surcharge more than once
- The visa application is refused
- The visa application is withdrawn before a decision is made.
In each of these three situations, UKVI will issue a full refund.
A partial refund may be given where a visa is granted for less time than requested or if a dependant included in the visa application receives a refusal.
It is UKVI’s policy that no refunds will be issued where the visa application is successful, but the applicant ends up not coming to the UK or if a visa holder decides to leave the UK before their visa ends. It will also not be given if the visa holder is ordered to leave the UK (e.g. due to breaching their visa conditions) before it expires or if the person is applying for settlement (i.e. indefinite leave to remain – ILR).
The refund is issued automatically within six weeks of the date of the decision. UKVI does advise, however, that it may take longer if you are appealing or have requested an administrative review following a negative visa decision.
What About Ihs Refunds For Healthcare Workers?
Under a separate initiative, the UKVI will also grant refunds of IHS payments made by healthcare workers in the UK. This policy came into force back in October 2021 and was put in place because of the removal of the requirement for healthcare workers to pay the IHS. This decision was made by the Government as a means of incentivising healthcare workers to come to and/or remain in the UK and as an acknowledgment of the hard work of those in the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Refunds under this programme are available to healthcare professionals for any IHS paid on or after 31st March 2020 and are paid for six-month periods.
How you claim the healthcare worker IHS will depend on whether you are in an eligible role on Tier 2 (general) visa or on a different type of visa. If you are in one of the following roles and you have a Tier 2 (general visa), your refund will be paid automatically back to the card you used:
- biological scientist
- dental practitioner
- medical radiographer
- ophthalmic optician
- physical scientist
- social worker
- speech and language therapist
- therapy professional
If you are not on Tier 2 (general) visa, but you are on a different visa working as a medical professional or another role in a healthcare setting such as a hospital, GP practice, care home, or community healthcare facility, you may have to manually request a refund. To be eligible, you must be working for a company or organisation affiliated with the NHS or the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and have worked in that role for at least six months, working an average of at least 16 hours a week. To apply for a refund in this situation, you will need to complete and submit the online application form providing your:
- IHS number (this is a 12-digit number)
- National Insurance number
- email address
- employer’s name
- payslips for the six months you’re claiming for - you can upload them as either a scan or a photo
If your application is successful, you can expect to receive your refund within six weeks on the card you originally used to pay the IHS fee.
If You Have Not Received Your Ihs Refund
In most cases, you should receive your refund within six weeks. Given the amount of money at stake, it is understandable that individuals will be keen to see their refund arrive as soon as possible. Indeed, you may be concerned that there may be a problem in processing your refund. If your IHS refund is delayed beyond six weeks, contact UKVI as soon as possible to ask for an update. If you don’t receive a satisfactory answer, speak to immigration Solicitors who will be able to assist you.
Given the IHS can add up to several thousands of pounds, this is not an amount of money that most individuals and their families can afford to be without. If you are in any way concerned about your eligibility for a refund, or if your refund is delayed, refused, or less than it should be, an immigration lawyer will endeavour to resolve the matter swiftly on your behalf.