If you are planning to apply for a UK visa or extend your current visa, you should be aware of the new IHS fee increase that will affect most visa applicants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. The IHS, or Immigration Health Surcharge, is a mandatory fee that visa applicants have to pay to access the National Health Service (NHS) during their stay in the UK. The new IHS fee increase will take effect from Fri Feb 2nd, 2024 (Expected).
|Current IHS fee
|£400 per year for most visa categories; £300 per year for students, youth mobility scheme applicants, and some other categories
|New IHS fee
|£1,035 per year for most visa categories; £776 per year for students, youth mobility scheme applicants, and some other categories
|Date of Implementation
|Fri Feb 2nd, 2024 (Expected)
|Exemptions and refunds
|Some visa applicants are exempt from paying the IHS fee or eligible for a refund in certain circumstances
Why is the IHS fee increasing?
The UK government claims that the new IHS fee increase will help fund the NHS and ensure that migrants make a fair contribution to the health service. According to the Home Office, the average cost of NHS services for each person in the UK is around £470 per year. Therefore, the new IHS fee is set to reflect this cost and cover the full range of NHS services available to migrants.
However, critics argue that the new IHS fee increase is unfair and discriminatory, as it will make the UK one of the most expensive countries in the world to migrate to. They also point out that many migrants already pay taxes and national insurance contributions that support the NHS. Moreover, they say that the new IHS fee increase will deter skilled workers, students, and families from coming to the UK and contribute to its economy and society.
How will the IHS fee increase affect you?
The new IHS fee increase will affect you if you are applying for a UK visa or extending your current visa from outside or inside the UK. You will have to pay the new IHS fee as part of your visa application process. The amount of IHS fee you have to pay depends on:
- The type of visa you are applying for
- The duration of your visa
- The number of dependants you are bringing with you
For example, if you are applying for a five-year work visa from Fri Feb 2nd, 2024, you will have to pay £5,175 in IHS fees (£1,035 x 5 years), up from £2,000 (£400 x 5 years). If you are bringing your spouse and two children with you, you will have to pay an additional £15,525 in IHS fees (£5,175 x 3 dependants), up from £6,000 (£2,000 x 3 dependants).
You can use the IHS calculator to estimate how much IHS fee you have to pay based on your visa type and duration.
How can you pay the IHS fee?
You can pay the IHS fee online as part of your visa application process. You will need:
- A debit or credit card
- Your passport number
- Your visa application reference number
You will receive an email confirmation with your IHS reference number after you pay the IHS fee. You will need this number to complete your visa application.
You can also pay the IHS fee by phone or in person at a UK Visa Application Centre if you are applying from outside the UK.
You can only pay the IHS fee in British pounds (GBP). If you are paying in another currency, you may incur additional charges or exchange rate fees.
How can you get an exemption or a refund of the IHS fee?
Some visa applicants are exempt from paying the IHS fee or eligible for a refund in certain circumstances. You do not have to pay the IHS fee if:
- You are applying for a visitor visa or a short-term study visa.
- You are applying for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship.
- You are applying for asylum, humanitarian protection, or as a victim of modern slavery.
- You are a diplomat, a member of an international organisation, or a NATO force.
- You are a child under 18 who is being taken into care or has been in care.
- You are an Australian or New Zealand citizen who is joining or accompanying an eligible family member who is serving in Her Majesty’s Forces.
You may be eligible for a full or partial refund of the IHS fee if:
- Your visa application is refused or withdrawn.
- You leave the UK before your visa expires.
- You change your immigration status within the UK.
- You paid more than you should have.
You can request a refund by contacting UK Visas and Immigration and providing your IHS reference number and evidence of your eligibility.
How can you save money on the IHS fee?
The new IHS fee increase will make your UK visa application more expensive and may affect your budget and plans. However, there are some ways you can save money on the IHS fee, such as:
- Applying for your visa before Fri Feb 2nd, 2024, if possible, to avoid the new IHS fee increase.
- Choosing a shorter visa duration if you do not need a longer one.
- Applying for a visa category that has a lower IHS fee, such as a student or youth mobility visa.
- Comparing the costs and benefits of different visa options and choosing the one that suits your needs and budget.
- Seeking professional advice from a qualified immigration consultant or lawyer who can help you with your visa application and IHS fee payment.
What are the alternatives to the IHS fee?
If you are not happy with the new IHS fee increase and do not want to pay it, you may consider some alternatives to the IHS fee, such as:
- Applying for a visa from another country that does not charge an IHS fee or has a lower one, such as Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.
- Applying for a visa from an EEA or Swiss country that has a reciprocal health agreement with the UK, such as Ireland, Norway, or Iceland.
- Applying for a private health insurance that covers your medical expenses in the UK.
- Applying for a travel insurance that covers your emergency medical expenses in the UK.
However, these alternatives may have their own costs and limitations, and may not be suitable or available for everyone. You should carefully research and compare your options before making a decision.
What are the benefits of the IHS fee?
Despite the new IHS fee increase, paying the IHS fee may have some benefits for you, such as:
- Giving you access to the NHS, which is one of the best and most comprehensive health services in the world.
- Covering most of your medical costs in the UK, such as GP visits, hospital treatments, prescriptions, tests, and vaccinations.
- Saving you money in the long run compared to paying for private health care or travel insurance.
- Giving you peace of mind and security in case of any health issues or emergencies during your stay in the UK.
The new IHS fee increase is a significant change that will affect most UK visa applicants from outside the EEA and Switzerland. The new IHS fee will be £1,035 per year for most visa categories and £776 per year for students and some other categories. The new IHS fee will take effect from Fri Feb 2nd, 2024.
The new IHS fee increase may have an impact on your budget and plans, but it may also have some benefits for you. You should be aware of the new IHS fee increase and how it will affect you. You should also check if you are eligible for any exemptions or refunds of the IHS fee. You should also consider some ways to save money on the IHS fee or some alternatives to the IHS fee.
If you need any help or advice with your UK visa application or IHS fee payment, please contact us. We are a team of professional immigration consultants and lawyers who can assist you with every aspect of your UK immigration journey.