A bitter pill: Immigration Health Surcharge to increase

The Government has announced in today’s budget that the Immigration Health Surcharge (“IHS”) will increase to £624 per year in October. A “discounted” IHS of £470 will apply to students, Youth Mobility Scheme applicants, and children. The IHS is currently £400.

The IHS is a charge that all migrants to the UK must pay, at the time that they pay for their visa or leave to remain. The Government says that it is intended to cover the “costs incurred by migrants using the NHS”. However, all UK residents contribute to the NHS through general taxation. It is also impossible to “opt out” of the IHS by buying your own private insurance.

The IHS is calculated based on the number of years of permission granted to stay in the UK. Those applying for a longer period of leave, and where dependants are also applying, will be particularly hard-hit: UK Ancestry visas and some Tier 2 visas are granted for 5 years. Applicants must also pay application fees, and charges for biometric appointments provided by private “partner” companies.

A UK Ancestry visa applicant with a partner and two children will pay an eye-watering £14,544 in visa and IHS fees from October 2020: £12,480 in IHS fees alone plus application fees of £516 x 4 = £2,064.

From January 2021, new migrants from European countries will also have to pay application and IHS fees.


Examples of IHS payable under different visa categories:

Length of leave granted                     Current IHS                             IHS from October 2020

Partner visa

33 months (entry clearance)                  £1,200                                      £1,872

30 months (leave to remain)                  £1,000                                      £1,536

Tier 2 General visa,

Global Talent visa

36 months (entry clearance)                  £1,200                                      £1,872

UK Ancestry

60 months (entry clearance)                  £2,000                                      £3,120


It is inevitable that these increases will put a UK visa out of reach for many: perhaps the IHS is just too much to swallow.


Kitty Falls

11 March 2020

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