US

Oct 15 2018

Reminder - Immigration Health Surcharge to Double in December

United Kingdom

At a Glance

The UK government has confirmed that it will double the Immigration Health Surcharge to GBP 400 (or GBP 300 under the discounted rate) in December 2018. The surcharge pertains to non-EU/European Economic Area nationals applying for a visa to work, study or join family in the United Kingdom for six months or more. Sponsoring employers may pay the charge on behalf of foreign workers. For employers sponsoring foreign workers, the added surcharge cost will likely reduce the overall attractiveness of the United Kingdom as a target destination for foreign talent.


The situation

The UK government has confirmed that it will double the Immigration Health Surcharge in December, subject to parliamentary approval, which is likely to occur.

A closer look

  • Significant increase in cost. The surcharge will double to GBP 400 per year. The discounted rate for students and applicants under the Youth Mobility Scheme will also double to GBP 300.

  • Applicants staying six months or more. The surcharge applies to all non-EU/European Economic Area nationals applying for a visa to work, study or join family in the United Kingdom for six months or more.

Impact

There will be a substantial increase in the overall cost for UK sponsors hiring foreign nationals who are intending to stay in the United Kingdom for six months or more, as the full amount must be paid upon each visa application.

Background

The increase is designed to bring the surcharge more in line with the average cost of National Health Service (NHS) – the UK healthcare system – used by foreign nationals in the United Kingdom, as estimated by the Health Department in February. The surcharge was introduced in April 2015 and gradually expanded to more nationalities and permit types.

Payment of the charge allows foreign nationals to access NHS services in the same way as a permanent UK resident, including covered visits to a general practitioner, healthcare centre or hospital.

Plans to increase the surcharge were announced in February. The government is now following up these plans through a formal legislative proposal.

Looking ahead

Government filing fees for all permit types in the United Kingdom are high when compared to other European countries, with total fees for a Tier 2 (General) Permit currently at GBP 1,646 - GBP 7,174 following the introduction of the GBP 1,000 immigration skills charge per main applicant per year in April 2017. For employers sponsoring foreign workers, the added surcharge cost will likely reduce the overall attractiveness of the United Kingdom as a target destination for foreign talent.

Since the UK government announced that it plans to follow the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendation to create a unified immigration policy with no special treatment of EU/European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, the surcharge could possibly become applicable to EU/EEA nationals as well in 2019.

Fragomen will monitor the developments and inform clients once the change is effective.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].