Tue | Aug 22, 2017

immigration Corner | Must I pay a healthcare surcharge?

Published:Tuesday | August 9, 2016 | 8:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I have heard that a person applying to enter the United Kingdom may now have to pay a healthcare surcharge. What are the circumstances under which this must be paid?

- K.S.

 

Dear KS,

Persons may need to pay a healthcare surcharge, called the 'immigration health surcharge' or IHS, as part of their immigration application. If persons are applying online or through the premium service centre, they will pay the surcharge as part of their application or when booking an appointment.

When applying by post, persons must pay the healthcare surcharge online before sending their application and will need to include the IHS reference number on the application form.

It should be noted that a person's information will be shared with the National Health Service (NHS) in England if: he/she has paid the healthcare surcharge, or are exempt from paying it; or the visa or immigration application is granted.

At this point, persons will be able to use the NHS. They will still need to pay for certain types of services, for example, prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests. Persons should take their biometric residence permit with them when accessing healthcare in the United Kingdom. Persons will not have to pay the healthcare surcharge if applying from outside the United Kingdom for a visitor visa or any visa that lasts six months or less.

A person does not need to use the healthcare surcharge service or get an IHS reference number for his/her visa application. Instead, that person will have to pay for any healthcare he/she gets through the NHS at the point used.

With respect to visa applications that are made outside of the United Kingdom, a person will have to pay if: he/she is a national of a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA); he/she is applying for a visa to work, study or join their family in the United Kingdom for more than six months, if not applying to remain in the United Kingdom permanently.

For immigration applications made from within the United Kingdom, a person will have to pay if: he/she is a national of a country outside of the EEA; he/she is making an immigration application for any amount of time, including applications for six months or less, but he/she is not applying to remain in the United Kingdom permanently.

It must be noted that a person will still need to pay even if he/she has private medical insurance.

I hope this helps.

- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:lawbassie@yahoo.com