Immigration Corner | Am I required to pay the healthcare surcharge?
Dear Mr Bassie,
Will I need to pay for UK healthcare as part of my immigration application? Any advice would be appreciated.
You might need to pay a healthcare surcharge. This is called the immigration health surcharge (IHS), as part of your immigration application. However, whether you need to pay will depend on the immigration status that you are applying for.
If persons are making their immigration application online, they will pay the surcharge as part of the application or when they book an appointment.
If they are applying by post, they will need to pay the surcharge online before sending the application and they will need to include the IHS reference number on the application form.
Persons can start using the National Health Service (NHS) when both of the following steps have been completed. That is they have paid the healthcare surcharge, or are exempt from paying it, and their visa or immigration application has been granted.
Please be aware that persons will still need to pay for certain types of services, such as prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and assisted conception. Persons will also need to take their biometric residence permit with them when they access healthcare in the United Kingdom.
Persons who will need to pay for an IHS reference number
For visa applications that are made from outside of the United Kingdom, persons will need to pay if:
• They are nationals of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA)
• They are applying for a visa to work, study or join their family in the UK for more than six months but they are not applying to remain in the UK permanently.
For immigration applications made from within the UK, persons will need to pay if:
• They are nationals of a country outside the EEA
• They are making an immigration application for any length of time, including applications for six months or less, but they are not applying to remain in the UK permanently.
Please note that persons will still need to pay even if they have private medical insurance.
Persons exempt from paying for an IHS reference number
Persons still need to use the payment service to get an IHS reference number but will not need to pay if they are a child under 18 years of age who has been taken into care by a local authority, or if they are a relevant civilian employee at NATO or the Australian Department of Defence in the UK (or if a dependant).
The payment service will tell those persons that they do not have to pay anything and will give them their healthcare surcharge reference number for their application. Persons will be able to use the National Health Service (NHS) even if they are exempt from paying.
Persons who do not need to pay or get an IHS reference number
Persons will be able to use the NHS without paying the surcharge or getting a reference number if:
• They are applying for indefinite leave to enter or remain
• They are a diplomat or a member of a visiting armed forces and not subject to immigration control
• They are a dependant of a member of the UK’s armed forces
• They are the dependant of a member of another country’s armed forces who is exempt from immigration control
• They are a family member of a European national with European Union treaty rights
• They are applying for a visa for the Isle of Man or Channel Islands
• They are a British Overseas Territory citizen resident in the Falkland Islands
• They are an asylum seeker or applying for humanitarian protection or their dependant
• He/she is a domestic worker who has been identified as a victim of slavery or human trafficking
• They are applying for discretionary leave to remain in the UK as someone who has been identified as a victim of slavery or human trafficking (or he/she is a dependant)
• The Home Office’s domestic violence concession applies (or he/she is a dependant)
• Being made to leave the UK would be against his/her rights under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (or he/she is a dependant)
Please note that a person will still need to pay the healthcare surcharge if having applied for indefinite leave to remain but are only given limited leave and those persons will need to pay before they are given the leave.
Persons will not need to pay the surcharge or get an IHS reference number if they are applying for a visitor visa or a visa for six months or less from outside the UK. However, they will need to pay for any NHS care received at the point of use - unless the service is free.
Persons will have to pay (dependants usually pay the same):
• £300 per year for a student or Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa, for example, £600 for a two-year visa
• £400 per year for all other visa and immigration applications, for example, £2,000 for a five-year visa
The exact amount that will need to be paid will depend on how much leave is granted. It is recommended that persons calculate how much they will have to pay before applying.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org