The Government has announced that from 6 April this year Australians and New Zealanders who spend more than 6 months in the UK will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
The IHS was introduced in April last year. It’s an annual fee which must be paid by non-EEA nationals in order for them to be able to access the NHS. When the IHS was introduced an exemption was agreed for Australian and New Zealand nationals. One year on, however, the standard IHS charges are due to become payable by applicants from these countries (subject to Parliamentary approval).
The IHS fee is currently £150 per year for students and £200 per year for all other applicants. So, for example, an American woman working in the UK for 3 years on a Tier 2 (General) visa would need to pay a an IHS of £600. If she wanted to bring her partner and their two children to the UK with her they would also have to pay the same amount, meaning the total IHS payable for the family would be £2,400.
The Government has confirmed that Australians and New Zealanders who come to the UK on a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa will only have to pay annual IHS fee of £150.
According to the Government press release, more than £100 million was collected in the first 6 months of the IHS. It currently applies to most visa types, with the exception of visitor visas and notably Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) visas. However, this may yet change. You may have seen last month’s blog about changes to Tier 2 recommended in the Migration Advisory Committee's review, one of which is to extend the IHS to all Tier 2 (ICT) applicants. There seems to be little doubt that the IHS is here to stay.