Immigration Surcharge Fee Increase Delayed
Immigration Solicitors and prospected visa applicants can breathe a sigh of relief (albeit not for long), as the planned increase in the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge has been delayed. The increase in the surcharge is already supposed to be in place (as of 1st October 2020), but due to new amendments being made to the proposed legislation, there will be a delay in its implementation. In this article, we will explain the purpose of the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge, the proposed changes, and the reason for the delay.
What Is the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge and Who Has to Pay It?
The Immigration Healthcare Surcharge is a fee levied on visa applicants to cover the cost of any healthcare they may require while in the UK. It is paid upfront in conjunction with the visa application fee, which for some applicants may be a considerable sum. At present, the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge is £400 per person per year. Hence if an application covers the main applicant, a spouse, and two dependant children, and the visa would ordinarily be granted for two years, then the cost is £4,800.
You need to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge if you are applying for a visa with a duration of six months or more if you are applying outside the UK. If you are making your application from inside the UK, then you will need to pay the surcharge regardless of the length of your visa. There is no requirement to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge if you are applying for a visitor visa or to remain in the UK permanently (e.g. for Indefinite Leave to Remain), or you are a health and care worker (or their dependant) seeking a Tier 2 Health and Care visa. And as the latest guidance from the Home Office confirms, those from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein will need to pay the healthcare surcharge, but only from 1st January 2021.
At present, the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge is set at:
- £300 per year for a student or Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa
- £400 per year for all other visa and immigration applications
What Were the Changes Originally Proposed?
Back in March, Rishi Sunak announced in his budget that the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge would be increasing. As a result, the government published ‘The Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2020’ , outlining changes to the Immigration (Health Charge) Order 2015 (S.I. 2015/792). The main changes were as follows:
1) An increase from £300 to £470 for Youth Mobility and student applicants
The order stated, “Article 2 amends Schedule 1 to the Principal Order, which specifies the annual amount of the immigration health charge in respect of applications by different categories of person. In respect of applications by students, dependants of students and Youth Mobility Scheme Temporary Migrants, the annual amount is increased from £300 to £470”
2) An increase from £400 to £624 for other visa applicants
All other visa applicants would see an increase in the annual Immigration Healthcare Surcharge of £224; “In respect of all other applications for entry clearance or leave to remain (for which the fee was previously £400), article 2(2)(d) draws a distinction between applications made in respect of persons over the age of 18 years at the date of the application, and applications made in respect of those under that age. In respect of applications made in respect of persons aged 18 years or over at the date of the application, the annual amount is set at £624.”
3) Increase to £470 per year for applicants and their dependants under 18
For those under 18, the legislative order set the amount of the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge to £470; “In respect of applications made in respect of persons aged under 18 years at the date of the application (including both applications made by applicants themselves aged under 18 years and also applications made in respect of a dependant where the dependant is aged under 18 years at the date of the application), the annual amount is set at £470”.
These changes were supposed to be brought in on 1st October 2020.
What Are the New Changes to The Immigration Healthcare Surcharge?
A new draft order has now been published proposing new changes to the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge, including:
1) A deferred implementation date to the new charges
The new order states “This Order may be cited as the Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2020 and comes into force on the twenty-first day after the day on which it is made”; in other words, it will only come into force three weeks after it becomes law (which is still yet to happen). The challenge for new applicants and those advising clients is that there is no set target date for the implementation of these changes.
2) An exemption for Health and Care Visa applicants
The new draft order also includes an exemption from paying the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge for Health and Care Visa applicants. According to the explanatory notes, “Article 2 also provides for an exemption from paying the immigration health charge in respect of an application for entry clearance, or leave to remain, in the capacity of certain NHS workers and their dependants”.
Beyond these changes, all of the proposed increases in the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge in the original order remain.
Apply Now If You Can
As discussed earlier, the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge can add up to a considerable sum, especially if paying for the main applicant and dependants at the same time. It is recommended that if you are ready to apply, that you complete your online application as soon as possible to take advantage of this temporary reprieve in the proposed fee increases. If you are unsure if you can submit your application now, or whether you have the necessary documents needed to do so, consider speaking to immigration lawyers near you who will be able to quickly advise you whether you are in a position to apply.