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The Government has announced that that the application fees and Immigration Health Surcharge (“IHS”) fees paid on visa applications will significantly rise in order to fund a pay-rise for public sector workers.
The IHS is essentially a tax paid by most migrants as part of their visa applications in order to access NHS services. It is a compulsory fee and it is not possible to opt out of this by using private healthcare instead.
On its introduction in 2015, the IHS was £200 a year. In 2018, this doubled to £400 a year. In December 2020, it increased to £624 a year. Under the current proposals, it will increase to £1,035 per year with the discounted rate for children increasing from £470 to £776. The Government has also proposed fee increases of 15% for the application fees for work and visit visas and 20% for study visas. The increases in these fees over the last decade have been considerable and are well above the rate of inflation.
When one considers that, generally, migrants need at least five years of continuous residence before they are eligible to settle in UK; this will amount to a substantial amount of money. Under the current proposals, five years of IHS for a family of two adults and three children would cost £21,990. That does not include the application fees, priority processing fees or legal fees. For work visas, many employers will pay the IHS for their employees and so in these cases the increased cost passes to the employer.
These substantially increased rates may cause difficulty for many migrants who are on a five or ten year route to settlement and now find that the fees that they may have budgeted for have massively increased halfway through the process.
There has been no confirmation on the timing of the increases. Often increases to immigration fees will take place in April, but there is no guarantee that it will not happen well before April 2024. Migrants that have upcoming applications may wish to consider making these earlier than planned in order to avoid the imminent increase to the fees.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Please contact our Business Immigration Law Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.