Following up on our alert on 2 September 2014, the Home Office has announced today that the planned NHS surcharge will be implemented with effect from 6 April 2015. This will apply to all non-EEA migrants applying for permission to enter the UK for more than 6 months and also to those migrants wishing to extend their existing limited leave to remain within the UK. As previously stated the surcharge will be £200 per annum per applicant, payable in full at the application stage, for all migrants except students, for whom the charge will be £150 per annum.

This represents a huge increase in upfront costs payable by migrants, for example a migrant with three dependants applying for a Tier 2 (General) visa for the maximum period of 60 months will have to pay an additional £4,000, on top of the usual visa fees.

Exemptions

There are a number of exemptions, including migrants from Australia and New Zealand and all migrants applying within the Tier 2 (intra-company transfer) category. The surcharge will also not apply to applications for indefinite leave to remain.

Visitors will not be subject to the surcharge but will be liable to pay 150% of the costs of any treatment received.

Likewise, EEA nationals will not be subject to it however all treatment will be fully chargeable but can be covered by the European Health Insurance Card.

Practicalities

For those migrants and their Sponsors who were planning to apply for a visa shortly, they may wish to bring forward the application date of their visa application if possible, to ensure they apply for the maximum period prior to 2 April 2015, which is the last date for submitting applications before the imposition of the new surcharge. The tax consequences of applying for a five year Tier 2 (General) visa should also be considered and advice should be sought from your tax advisor.

For future applications, migrants and their Sponsors may wish to consider applying for a shorter term initial visa to reduce the large upfront cost and pay the balance of the surcharge with any future extension application.

Where a migrant is applying for a period which incorporates part of a year, 50% will be payable for six months or less and the full annual amount will be payable for over six months. The following are examples of how the pro-rated surcharge will be applied:

  • Visa duration of 25-30 months – surcharge of £500 is payable
  • Visa duration of 31-36 months – surcharge of £600 is payable

Refunds

If an application is refused the surcharge will be automatically refunded however if a visa is issued but the migrant decides not to travel to the UK, the surcharge will not be refunded. The surcharge will also not be partially refunded if the migrant departs the UK before the expiry of their permission. Furthermore, if the migrant does not use the NHS, the surcharge will not be refunded.