UK immigration update: Anticipated Immigration Health Surcharge Increase

At a glance:

  • The implementation date for planned increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) still not certain, however this is likely to be 31 January 2024, at the earliest, or early February.
  • Standard fee for adults increasing from GBP624 to GBP1,035 per year.
  • Annual fee for migrants applying as Students, Student dependants and Youth Mobility Scheme visas as well as applicants aged under 18 at the time of their application is increasing from GBP470 to GBP776.
  • Skilled Workers under the Health & Care category, as well as their dependants will continue to be exempt from paying the charge.
  • Exemption of the charge is also being extended to those who are submitting immigration applications on the basis of statelessness or under the Ukraine Scheme.

In July 2023, the UK Government announced an increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge paid by most overseas migrants submitting applications for visas to the UK. On 19 October 2023, draft legislation was placed before Parliament for consideration. The proposed change would see a substantial 66% increase to the main IHS rate.

The implementation date for this change has, however, remained somewhat elusive. The draft legislation laid before Parliament provided that it would come into force on 16 January 2024 or 21 days after its approval, whichever is later.

At the date of writing, the draft legislation has not yet been approved. The House of Lords debated the draft legislation on 12 December 2023, approving it on 18 December 2023. It is now scheduled for debate in the House of Commons on 10 January 2024. With this in mind, it seems unlikely that the increase will be implemented by 16 January 2024 and instead the earliest this could take effect will now be 31 January 2024, or potentially early February 2024. Employers may therefore have some extra breathing room following the festive period to prepare and submit via applications before being bitten by the increased fees.

What is the IHS?

The IHS was originally introduced by the Government in April 2015 with its intended purpose to ‘ensure that migrants make a proper financial contribution to the cost of their NHS care’. This is in addition to the contribution made by the majority of migrants to the public purse as UK taxpayers.

The original fee payable was GBP200 per year with the discounted rate set at GBP150 per year with increases taking effect in January 2019 and October 2020. Since its introduction, the government has raised GBP5.1 billion in IHS revenue with this the figure for the 2022/2023 being GBP1.7 billion.

Who has to pay the IHS?

Unless an exemption applies, the IHS must be paid by visa applicants who are submitting their applications:

  • from overseas for a visa of 6 months or longer; and
  • from inside the UK for a visa of any length of time, except Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Individuals travelling to the UK as visitors do not have to pay the IHS as they are expected to pay for the full costs of any treatment received at the point of access.

What will the IHS be increasing to?

Type of application Current amount payable per year New amount to be payable per year
Student, Student Dependant and Youth Mobility Scheme GBP470 GBP776
All other adult applications GBP624 GBP1.035
Applications submitted by applicants under 18 years of age GBP470 GBP776

Impact for businesses  

Many employers have already begun considering whether to bring forward the sponsorship of any identified potential employees. Whilst the anticipated date of implementation may be pushed back, it would still be prudent for employers to review potential applications in the pipeline and also consider bringing these forward to avoid incurring the increased IHS fee.

Businesses should also consider the increase in the IHS and make any relevant adjustments to their expected recruitment budgets for 2024 or other budgets set with migrant workers in mind.

Our Immigration team would be pleased to have a quick call regarding how these changes may affect you, or any other UK-immigration related matters generally. Please contact Gulcin Kashano, Eilidh Moncrieff or Kate Hodgkiss.