As of 6 April 2015, all non-EEA migrants coming to the UK for more than six months, and those currently in the UK wishing to extend their stay, will be subject to the new NHS surcharge scheme. The scheme will give migrants, who have paid the surcharge, access to the NHS on the same terms as permanent UK residents.

The surcharge costs £200 per annum per person (£150 for students) and the total is payable at the point of application. For example, a Tier 2 migrant applying for a five year visa with one dependant will pay £2,000 in addition to the application fees.

A number of categories of migrants are exempt from having to pay the surcharge, including nationals of Australia and New Zealand, and all migrants applying under the Tier 2 (intra-company transfer) route. It will also not apply to migrants applying for indefinite leave to remain.

Visitors (including those in the UK for business visits) with permission to stay in the UK for less than six months, will not be subject to the surcharge but will have to pay 150% of the cost of any treatment received under the NHS. Private health insurance will therefore be an important consideration when coming to visit the UK. EEA nationals are also not subject to the surcharge as treatment will be covered by the European Health Insurance Card.

Due to the additional upfront costs, employers should give careful consideration to the length of visa required for migrant employees. In addition, employers who will be covering this charge should check whether there are any tax implications before proceeding.

Penningtons Manches LLP is uniquely placed to advise businesses on aspects of immigration and tax law, and would be happy to provide assistance to employers who may have concerns around the new NHS surcharge.