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April 2015 – NHS surcharge for applicants both inside and outside the UK

The government is set to recoup up to £1.7 billion over the next ten years to help pay for the cost of NHS treatment given to temporary migrants.

The Legislation that came into effect on 6 April means that going forward nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) coming to the UK for longer than six months will be required to pay a ‘health surcharge’ when they make their immigration application.  This surcharge must also be paid by non-EEA nationals already in the UK, who are applying to extend their stay. The surcharge does not apply to Tier 2 Intra-company transferees, Nationals of Australian and New Zealand – below is a detailed list of all exemptions .

The health surcharge is £150 per year for students and £200 per year for all other migrants to whom the surcharge applies. It is payable upfront and for the total period of time for which migrants are given permission to stay in the UK.

So who is to pay the NHS surcharge?

Considering that a migrant worker coming to the UK for 5 years with 2 dependants, is liable for a charge of £3000, which comes on top of the actual visa fees of £3384, the surcharge will act as a very strong deterrent on most migrants. Sponsors are very likely to have to have to pick up the bill which in most occasions will double their HR immigration budget. As the NHS surcharge is non refundable, sponsors may consider including a claw back clause in the migrant’s contract.

Many of our clients have already commented that Tier 2 migrants contribute to the UK economy through taxation. Bearing in mind that they are subject to NI contributions, with this surcharge they will end up paying for the service twice. The Home Office’s response to this is: ‘the intended effect of the surcharge is that a person’s access to healthcare should be in line with their immigration status in the UK. Temporary migrants have not built up the long term contribution to the UK that a British Citizen will have built up and will build up over the course of their lifetime.’

Who is exempt from paying the surcharge?

A summary of exemptions is listed below.

Visitors, and where the grant of entry clearance (permission to stay in the UK) is for 6 months or less.

Intra company transfers (Tier 2 skilled workers).

Children under 18 years taken into care or in the care of a local authority.

Migrants making an application for asylum, humanitarian protection, or a claim that their removal from the United Kingdom would be contrary to article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Victims of human trafficking.

A migrant who applies under the Home Office concession known as the ‘destitute domestic violence concession’.

Dependents of a member of Her Majesty’s Forces.

As a dependant of a member of another country’s Forces who is exempt from Immigration Control.

Those making an immigration application related to an EU obligation, such as an application under the Turkish European Communities Association Agreement, are exempt.

Nationals of Australia or New Zealand.

A British Overseas Territory citizen who is the resident of the Falkland Islands.

What about the tourists, do they have to pay the health surcharge too?

No, Tourists travelling on a visitor visa [or EEA nationals] are not be liable for the surcharge. In fact from April 2015 those entering the UK on a visitor visa will be charged 150% of the cost of any medical treatment they receive from the NHS.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions on any of the above.