Increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge
The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) grants visa holders’ access to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. This charge is calculated based on the duration of the visa applied for and it is a paid aspect of visa applications. Visas must extend to a period beyond 6 months and it applies to family, work or study visa applications.
On Wednesday 11th March 2020, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced the UK Budget for 2020 which contains some weighty amendments. One of these amendments is a significant increase to the current IHS to £624.00, from previously being only £400.00. This similarly resembles the integral increase to the IHS back in 2015, rising to £400.00 from originally being £200.00. It is mandatory that all non-European applicants and dependents pay the surcharge when applying for a visa.
For the UK, the implementation of such an increase proliferates the amount of money to be raised to go towards the NHS system. In October 2018, the UK Government projected that the NHS accumulated an additional £220 million as a result of the IHS increase to £400.00 back in 2015. Consequentially, this will mean a further remarkable rise in funds towards the system. Mr Sunak undoubtedly declared that there will be an additional £30 billlion in UK spending, with at least £5 billion going specifically towards the NHS in a bid to combat the corona virus. Now this virus has been labelled as a “global pandemic”, the combined monies from additional spending and the increase in the IHS will be unwaveringly devoted to research and development for a vaccine and treating current corona virus patients, with more to follow. Additionally, this asserts further that the NHS as a national health service versus an international one that can be easily be used by those who seek to come to the UK temporarily.
What this means for non-EU nationals and dependents seeking to come into the UK is an increase payment and contribution when applying for a visa. They will still have the same access and treatment as an average British citizen to the UK’s health services. It still remains that this no longer applies to visitors who visit the UK for a period less than six months.
In spite of all of this and the fact that this nominal figure is considered to be “lower level than equivalent charges on average in other comparable countries”, this is detrimental and unjust to migrants yearning to enter the UK. Although the government wants to secure a “fair contribution” from migrants to ensure the NHS’s long-standing sustainability, it will be undoubtedly more difficult in financial terms for migrants to afford having equal access to the NHS. Amidst the outbreak of the corona virus and its rapidly increasing cases worldwide, this is officially a cause for concern for migrants. This is simply because they must find the means to accommodate this increase and secure health treatment if they are to catch this virus, which still does not have a vaccine.
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