The NHS health surcharge for visa applications is expected to come into effect in April 2015.  Employers who intend to employ migrant staff should consider taking steps to prepare for this. The key points are as follows.

  • The surcharge will apply to all non-EEA nationals who make new applications for leave of more than six months in duration in the Tier 1, Tier 2 (excluding Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer)), Tier 4 and Tier 5 categories.
  • The surcharge is expected to be £200 per annum (with a lesser charge of £150 for students) and is applicable to the main applicant and dependant applicants. The total amount payable will depend on the length of the visa being applied for. Contrary to previous indications, the surcharge will be payable in full up front when the application is made, rather than on an annual basis. For example, the total surcharge cost for a migrant with a dependant spouse and two dependent children applying for visas for a five year period will be £4,000. This will be in addition to the usual application fees and other costs. There is no opt out available for migrants who wish to make their own private provision for healthcare. 
  • Multinational organisations will welcome the exemption for Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer) migrants who will continue to be able to access NHS care without charge.
  • There will be NHS pre-registration arrangements for migrants who have paid the surcharge which will be aligned with arrangements for the issuing of Biometric Residence Permits and other entry documents.
  • EU migrants and visitors will be required to produce a European Health Insurance Card in order to avoid being charged for services.        

Many employers are likely to want to pay or contribute to the cost of the surcharge for the employee and their dependants. Careful consideration will need to be given to the tax, NIC and other compliance implications associated with doing so. Employers who are considering employing non-EEA migrants in particular roles may also want to consider expediting visa applications prior to April 2015, in order to avoid the significant additional cost of the surcharge being incurred.