The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is payable by the vast majority of non-EU applicants for longer-term visas and those extending their leave to remain in the UK. It is characterised as allowing access to the National Health Service, which is free at point of use. Effectively, for non-EU migrants it is an additional application fee. Without payment, your application will not be valid, and will be rejected. It is important to understand this, as it can have a significant impact on your continuous lawful residence in the UK.
The IHS is payable once a visa or further leave application has been submitted online; a simple redirect in the booking system takes you to the payment page. It is calculated with reference to the number of years you wish to remain in the UK, and from 1 October 2020 rose to £624 per year (pro-rata) per applicant. There are discounts for students and children under 18, who must pay £470 per year pro-rated. If your application is refused, the IHS will be refunded to you; in this way, it differs from standard Home Office application fees.
So, for example, a spouse of a British citizen seeking leave to remain will be granted leave for 30 months, or 2½ years; the IHS is pro-rated in such a case, making a total of £1,560 (2.5 x £624) due.
The health surcharge is not payable when applying for settlement. It is possible to seek an exemption from payment in certain cases where you can prove financial hardship. Broadly, this is only available in cases based on human rights, your private and family life, and for victims of domestic violence. For more information about fee waivers, see the useful factsheets published by the No Recourse to Public Funds Network.
You do not have to submit documents in support of your health surcharge payment; you should remember to print out your receipt for payment once it has been made, so this can be included in the paperwork for your visa application.
It is also worth remembering that – in some immigration categories – the Home Office calculator does not come up with the correct health surcharge figure. In such cases you must accept the calculation provided, obtain an IHS reference, and reference this in the body of your application. You will ultimately be required to pay the correct amount before a visa or residence permit can be issued to you.
If you are unsure about your liability to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge you can contact us and speak with an experienced member of our legal team, who will be able to help.