Immigration Health surcharge
jawad / 19.11.2023

Immigration Health Surcharge to increase on 16 January 2024

To understand the impact of the IHS increase, let's consider a family of four - two adults and two children - applying for leave to enter as a Skilled Worker with dependants, intending to stay in the UK for three years. At present, such a family, with the main applicant as a sponsored Skilled Worker (excluding Health and Care Workers), would pay £3744 for the two adults (£624 x 3 x 2) and £2820 for the two children (£470 x 3 x 2), totalling £6564. 

However, post 16th January 2024, the figures will rise to £6210 for the adults (£1035 x 3 x 2) and £4656 for the children (£776 x 3 x 2), bringing the total to £10,866. While sponsors often cover the visa fees and the IHS for their employees, this is not a given, and visa applicants may have to bear these costs, particularly for their dependent family members. The ability to afford these fees largely depends on the country of origin and the salaries earned prior to moving to the UK. 

This increase in the IHS could potentially make the immigration policy more discriminatory. A petition is currently open for signatures, urging the government not to increase the IHS beyond its current level. 

The IHS is applicable to anyone applying for a visa to work, study, or join their family in the UK for more than six months. It also applies to those with temporary status in the UK seeking an extension or variation of their immigration status. Exceptions are made for Health and Care Workers and those applying under the Ukraine Family Scheme. 

The IHS is specific to the visa application, and individuals who already have permission to stay but need to change their immigration status must pay the IHS again. The IHS is a fixed amount linked to the visa duration and does not consider the likely usage of the NHS, pre-existing health conditions, or the availability of private medical insurance. 

Ironically, the IHS increase will most significantly impact Skilled Workers, a category of migrants the government ostensibly does not intend to discourage. As illustrated above, a skilled worker's family with three dependants would face an IHS of £10,866 for a three-year visa, with an additional two-thirds of this amount payable if they decide to stay for a further two years leading to Indefinite Leave to Remain. 

Moreover, if a Skilled Worker decides to change employment during the initial visa period, they would have to pay the IHS again. Skilled Workers are particularly vulnerable in this respect, as no other visa is conditioned on staying with the nominated employer. 

The economic model of financing the NHS through immigration is unrealistic and is likely to undermine both the interests of skilled workers from outside the UK and any attempts to save the NHS.