Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Immigration Corner | Must I pay for health care?

Published:Tuesday | April 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am planning to visit the United Kingdom, but I have been told that I will need to pay for United Kingdom health care as part of the application. Is this true? I hear that it is quite expensive and I am concerned that I will lose my money if I am turned down.

- A.J.

Dear A.J.,

Persons may need to pay a health-care surcharge, called the 'immigration health surcharge' (IHS), as part of the immigration application.

Please note that when applying online or through the premium service centre, persons will pay the surcharge as part of their application or when booking an appointment.

If applying by post, persons must pay the health-care surcharge online before sending the application as the IHS reference number will be needed to be put on the application form. It should be noted that the information will be shared with the National Health Service (NHS) in England if the applicant has paid the health-care surcharge or if exempt from paying it; the visa or immigration application is granted.

Having paid, the successful applicants will then be able to use the NHS. They will still need to pay for certain types of services, such as prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests. Also, persons should take their biometric residence permit when accessing health care in the United Kingdom.

However, persons will not have to pay the health-care surcharge if they are applying from outside the United Kingdom for a visitor visa or any visa that lasts six months or less. Also, they will not need to use the health-care surcharge service or get an IHS reference number for their visa application. Instead, they will have to pay for any health-care received through the NHS at the point they use it.

Persons will need to pay for visa applications made outside the United Kingdom if a person is a national of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA); he or she is applying for a visa to work, study or join their family over there for more than six months, but they are not applying to remain in the United Kingdom permanently.




For immigration applications that are made from within the United Kingdom, a person will have to pay if he or she is a national of a country outside the EEA; he or she is making an immigration application for any length of time, including applications for six months or less, but not when applying to remain in the United Kingdom permanently. Applicants should be aware that they will still need to pay, even if they have private medical insurance.

It should also be noted that a visa or immigration application will not be granted if a person does not pay the health-care surcharge, or the application will be delayed if the right amount is not paid.

If an applicant makes an immigration application online, he or she must pay the healthcare surcharge as part of the application process. Also, the applicant must complete the payment and return to the online immigration application in less than 30 minutes.

If making an immigration application at a premium service centre, the applicant will pay the surcharge when booking an appointment. If making an immigration application by post, the applicant must pay the health-care surcharge before completing the application.

In addition, persons do not need to do anything to get an IHS refund as it is automatically paid to the account or card that it is paid with.

Persons will get a full IHS refund if they have paid twice; their visa application is refused; they withdraw their visa application.

- 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: