The UK government has announced that it will be increasing the fees it charges for immigration applications. The most significant increase is to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which will increase by a staggering 66% to £1035 per year. It is currently £624 per year. This means that a person applying to enter the UK as the partner of a British citizen will pay £3105 to use the NHS, up from £1872.
UK visa application fees will increase by at least 15%. For example, an application to enter the UK as the partner of a British Citizen will rise from £1538 to at least £1835. An applicant must pay the IHS in addition to the application fee.
The government has yet to announce when these increases will take effect. However, it could be this autumn. The increases will apply to a wide variety of applications, including work, study and visit visas.
The immigration process is already costly, and we know the government makes a profit on many applications. The government publishes the unit costs of processing the different types of application each year. In some cases, there is a considerable profit margin.
The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a mandatory payment which gives the applicant the right to use the NHS while living here. There is a discounted rate for students and children under 18 years old, which is increasing to £776 per year. Not everyone pays IHS. Those on health and care visas, or the EU Settlement Scheme or visitors, for example, do not have to pay the IHS.
Many of our clients pay twice for the privilege of using the NHS. They work here, pay tax and national insurance, and have already paid the IHS. The government says this is the first rise in three years, and the extra money will fund pay rises for doctors.
Doctors in Unite, which represents junior doctors, general practitioners and hospital consultants, have said that they are “appalled” at the move, calling it “immoral and divisive”.
These increased immigration fees will make it more expensive to bring workers from overseas. Employers are struggling to find workers in specific sectors and have been recruiting Skilled Workers from abroad. The cost of doing this will increase. So, if you are considering applying to the UK, or you need to recruit from abroad, you may want to do it soon to avoid these large increases in costs.
Please get in touch with our team if you are concerned about the increase to immigration fees, and would like to discuss your options.