The immigration health surcharge
The immigration health surcharge (IHS), has been introduced by the UK Government to give access to the full range of NHS treatments to certain overseas visitors to the UK. The Immigration Health Surcharge is also sometimes known as the NHS surcharge.
The Immigration Health Surcharge is a fee which is charged alongside most applications for UK visas that are valid for periods of longer than 6 months. Visitors coming to the UK for less than 6 months are not required to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge. However; all immigrants who are not ordinarily resident in the UK must pay this fee to be able to use NHS services. The IHS fee is compulsory, even if the visitor or immigrant has a private health insurance, they still need to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge.
The immigration health surcharge fee is usually as follows:
£624 per year for a regular UK visa
£470 per year for children, students and Youth Mobility visas
An immigrant applying for a short-term visa to stay in the UK for up to 6 months (including fiance visa applicants) will not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge fee. However these immigrants will not be entitled to free NHS care whilst here, unless it is an emergency and even then, they would only be entitled to the emergency A&E treatment. However, the majority of other immigrants applying for any type of limited leave to remain, such as students, Tier 2 workers or spouses, will need to pay the fee, even if they are applying to stay for less than 6 months.
Some immigrants are exempt from having to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (HIS) fee. These include the following:
- Immigrants who work for the NHS
- Diplomats and members of visiting armed forces who are not subject to immigration control
- Dependants of a member of the UK’s armed forces or another country’s armed forces who is exempt from immigration control
- Applicants for a visa for the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands
- British Overseas Territory citizens resident in the Falkland Islands
- Asylum seekers and applicants for humanitarian protection and their dependants
- Those applying to stay as the victims of modern slavery, human trafficking or domestic abuse and their dependants
An immigrant who has paid the immigration health surcharge will be eligible to access the full range of free NHS treatments in the same way that British citizens can.