Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) doubles from today

The fee to access the UK National Health Service (NHS) paid by international students and visa applicants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) increases from 8 January 2019.

Image of February 2018 NHS crisis march with people and banners supporting migrants and against underfunding
The surcharge is implemented for visa applicants so that they are medically covered throughout their stay. Rising from £200 to £400 a year, the IHS gives individuals access to treatment on the NHS on the same basis as UK citizens, with the fee payable before a visa application is submitted to the UK authorities.Students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme who currently pay £150 a year will see this double to £300 a year.

In-bound assignments to the UK now more costly for employers?

Commenting on the impact on employers transferring people to the UK from outside the EEA, Claire Nilson, counsel at law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, voiced concerns about the increased costs companies now have to bear as a result of the IHS fee change. “The doubling of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will require businesses to pay more to transfer their staff into the UK.“When you consider that many intra-company transfer visas last for five years, this will raise the cost to the business for the IHS fee alone from £1,000 to £2,000 for the life of the visa."

Could IHS rise see businesses pass cost burden to employees?

“If that employee will be accompanied to the UK by a spouse and two children for example, multiplying this number for each family member will raise the cost from £5,000 to £10,000.“This could be an especially high cost burden for SMEs on top of the other application fees and may lead to more businesses seeking to pass the burden of this cost over to the employees than do so currently. “The Home Office announcement of the start date for the doubling of IHS fees was announced on short notice giving businesses and foreign nationals little time to plan filings to mitigate their costs.”

IHS 'still a good deal'

The increase, announced in October by the Home Office as part of a package of measures to encourage more applications online, was defended in a written statement by Minister of State for immigration, Caroline NokesPointing out that the IHS had not increased since its introduction in April 2015, she said the new fees are still below the full average cost recovery level and “remains a good deal for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily”.

IHS charge will affect employers of foreign nationals and individuals planning to work in UK

Crown Worldwide's Immigration Team commented, "We anticipate that the increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will affect employers of foreign nationals, as well as individuals planning to work in the U.K..

"Companies may decide to not provide monetary coverage for accompanying family members and therefore policies may need to be reviewed. Making such changes to policies could lead to further challenges filling specialist roles and hiring the right candidates. Companies that continue to bear the costs for these employees may cut back on benefits or make cuts elsewhere. This will have an impact on the company’s operations.

"The increase will also likely see many companies hire or train local staff. This will reflect positively on the U.K.’s internal market. That said, the increase may reflect the U.K. Government’s desires to regulate foreign entries and encourage companies to examine local workforces in order to justify “importing” skills that are not available in country."Head to our immigration section for more news and insight.  
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