LONDON: The overall cost of a UK visa for non-EU citizens willrise from December as part of plans to raise the immigration health surcharge (IHS), payable when students, professionals and family members apply for a visa.
The current surcharge is £200 a year, and it will increase to £400, with students and those on a youth mobility scheme paying a discounted rate of £300 a year, officials said on Friday.
The IHS, introduced in 2015, enables immigrants to access the National Health Service (NHS)during their stay in the UK.Since 2015, the surcharge has raised more than £600 million from Indian and non-EU citizens withUK visas valid for more than six months.
The IHC is not levied on immigrants who achieve the status of permanent residents after a period of legal stay in the country. The higher IHS willtake effect from December, after parliamentary approval.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said: “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.
“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.”
Officials said the planned increase better reflects the cost to the NHS of treating those who pay the surcharge. It is estimated the NHS spends £470 on average per person a year on treating those required to pay the surcharge.
Short-term migrants, including those on visitor visas, are generally charged for secondary care treatment by the NHS at the point of access.