Visa health costs for non-EU arrivals set to double

The UK government is planning to increase the visa costs for professionals, students and family members arriving from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) from December.

Visa health costs for non-EU arrivals set to double
The UK government's Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes has announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is imposed on anyone from outside the EEA planning to stay in the UK for more than six months, will double in December from £200 to £400 per person per year.Students aged between 18-30 will have to pay £300, instead of the current £150, to access the National Health Service.The increase in the surcharge, which was first introduced in 2015 to the disappointment of business chiefs already facing increased costs under the Tier 2 visa system, is forecast by the Home Office to raise an additional £220 million a year for the NHS. 

NHS: long-term sustainability

Ms Nokes said, "Our NHS is always there when you need it, paid for by British taxpayers. We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but the NHS is a national, not international health service and we believe it is right that they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability."I am pleased that we are a step closer to implementing the changes to the health surcharge, and the extra money raised will go directly towards sustaining and protecting our world class healthcare system."It is only fair that people who come to the UK make a contribution to the running of the NHS, and even with the increase we still continue to offer a good deal on healthcare for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily."

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The Home Office said the increases "better reflect the cost to the NHS of treating those who pay the surcharge", adding that the rises would not affect permanent residents, who are not required to pay the surcharge.

Increasing costs for overseas nurses

But Tom Sandford, director of the Royal College of Nursing, said, “The government’s hostile environment appears to be alive and well, embodied by this punitive and short-sighted decision to double the overseas surcharge. These charges can tear families apart, in some cases forcing hardworking nurses to send their children back to their country of origin, while they remain to work in the service of our NHS.“This is at a time when our healthcare system is facing almost unprecedented staff shortages, with 41,000 nurse vacancies in England alone. The UK depends on professionals from around the world, and we are proud to have the best and brightest from over 200 countries represented here.“Yet the government is still sending the message that they are no longer welcome. Make no mistake: overseas staff keep the NHS running; the government should be thanking them, not doubling the price of admission. We call on the Home Office to waive this policy for non-EEA nursing staff immediately.”

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Penalising international NHS doctors

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, who chairs the council of the British Medical Association, added, “This policy will do nothing but further penalise international doctors who are choosing to work in an under-staffed, under-funded and under-resourced NHS.“These doctors are delivering key health services and already paying tax and national insurance contributions. It is absurd that immigration policies continue to seek to penalise overseas medics in the middle of the worst recruitment crisis the NHS has seen. We would like to see doctors exempt from this charge.”Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online DirectorySubscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all of the international assignments and global mobility news.

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