For immigration applications made on or after 6 April, a new “health surcharge” will apply. In this way the Home Office claims that it will “recoup up to £1.7 billion over the next 10 years”.
The charge will be £200 per person for each year of leave applied for. For example, a main applicant under Tier 2 (General) with three dependant family members, applying for a 3-year visa, will have to pay a total of £2,400. A reduced charge of £150 will apply to Tier 4 applicants.
There are some exceptions, including:
- Applicants for visas of less than 6 months duration
- Australian and New Zealand applicants
- Tier 2 (ICT) applicants
- Applicants for asylum or humanitarian protection
The requirement for a surcharge will add an extra layer to the online application process, to obtain a “surcharge reference number”. If the visa application is refused, the surcharge should be repaid.
Employers may look at offering to pay the health surcharge for sponsored employees: having private health insurance does not exempt a person from paying the surcharge.
The surcharge is likely to be a heavy burden for family applicants, many of whom are already kept apart for longer as they save for visa application fees, English test charges, translation and legal costs, and the “administration fees” charged by some privately-run Visa Application Centres.
People with visit visas do not have to pay the surcharge. However, in a parallel proposal they will be required to pay 150% of the cost of any NHS treatment the undergo in the UK.