In our post this summer we commented on the general increase to immigration fees and charges. We posted again here on when most of the increases would take effect although it wasn’t clear at that time when the immigration health surcharge would be increased. The Home Office has now confirmed when health surcharge fees will increase for visa applicants.
This is a charge many visa applicants must pay during the application process, to enable them to access UK healthcare. The aim of the surcharge is to help ensure the cost of healthcare is paid for by the visa holder. However, the Home Office has identified a need to increase this surcharge to ensure healthcare costs are fully covered.
Many applicants who are applying for a visa to come to the UK for more than 6 months, or anyone applying to extend their visa from within the UK will have to pay the surcharge, including their dependant partners and children. However, there are some exceptions including anyone applying under the Health and Care worker route, visitors to the UK and those applying under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Currently the immigration health surcharge is either £470 per year for children, students (and their dependants) and those applying for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, or £624 per year in all other cases. For applicants within the UK who are applying for a visa of less than 6 months, the fee is half the annual cost.
The surcharge will be increasing to £776 per year for children, students (and their dependants) and youth mobility workers, and £1,035 per year for all other categories. This is a significant increase of £411 per year for most applicants.
The draft legislation behind this increase still needs to be approved by both Houses of Parliament. The increase will come into effect either 21 days after the Order has been approved or 16 January 2024 (whichever is later).
This is primarily a charge for employees to pay, but often the cost is reimbursed by the employer. However, employers may be more reluctant to refund employees once the increase comes into effect, particularly as visa fees in general increased in October 2023. However, employers in sectors that struggle to recruit locally may have no option but to pay these increased costs if they want to continue to attract talent to the UK.
Employers can require employees to pay them back if the employee leaves employment within a certain time period after the cost has been incurred. This can be achieved by having a visa repayment clause included in the employee’s contract of employment. These types of clauses need to be carefully drafted so that the employer is not seeking to recoup fees that cannot be passed on to the employee (such as the Immigration Skills Charge) and that the time frame and amounts for repayment are proportionate.
If you would like to discuss these changes or require bespoke immigration advice, get in touch with our team of expert immigration lawyers.