On 6 April 2015, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) introduced the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for individuals applying for leave to enter or remain in the UK granting them free access to the NHS. With a few limited exceptions, everyone coming to the UK on a visa of 6 months or more must register for the IHS and most must pay a fee.

With the benefit of three months of running the process UKVI have created an improved service which will come into effect on 5 July 2015. The changes are intended to reduce the number of applications which are refused on the grounds of failure to pay the surcharge. 

What isn’t changing?

  • The IHS fee will correspond to the number of years of leave stated in the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), not the maximum grant in the relevant visa subcategory.  For example, a Tier 2 (General – up to 3 years) application where the CoS is issued for 2 years will attracted a fee of £400, not £600.
  • Where the CoS is not issued for a whole number of years, the IHS fee will increase accordingly to reflect the number of additional months. The first additional month will not attract an extra fee, and any more than 6 additional months will attract a full year’s extra fee. 

For example, a Tier 2 (General) an application where the CoS is issued for 2.5 years will attracted a fee of £500.

What will change?

The new service will apply to all visa routes which are applied for online or at a Premium Service appointment both in the UK and overseas.

The principal change will see the integration of the registration and payment for the IHS into the online application or Premium Service booking system. This means that applicants will only need to enter their personal and payment details once, making visa applications quicker and errors less likely.

As the IHS is linked to the visa application there will be no need to monitor IHS reference numbers as the references will automatically be linked to each application.

What will be the impact on IHS applications already in progress?

For applicants in the UK who have either started their application or registered for the IHS but not finished the process, they will need to complete the IHS registration and submit their application before 06:59 (BST) on 4 July.

If they do not meet this deadline then they will need to start their application and complete the IHS registration again. This could result in a double payment of the IHS fee and the employee out-of-pocket whilst awaiting a refund.

Overseas applicants who have either started their application or registered for the IHS but not finished the process should do so before 17:59 (BST) on 4 July.

Applicant who have not started the process and who can wait until 5 July should look to hold fire and take advantage of the new service.

How can a refund be claimed in the event of missing the deadline?

Where the IHS fee is paid twice, and the applicant has received two payment confirmation emails, a refund for the overpayment can be requested.  For applicants in the UK this request is made in the current IHS registration website. 

Overseas applicants should inform the Visa Application Centre in their country when they attend their biometric enrolment appointment and they will process the refund.

Further Information

The UKVI guidance will be updated to reflect the changes and can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/overview