In 2015, the government introduced an “immigration health surcharge” (IHS) as part of some applications for leave to enter/remain in the UK.
All applicants for entry clearance (visas) for more than six months, and people already in the UK applying for time-limited leave to remain, are required to pay the charge to cover National Health Service (NHS) healthcare in the UK.
This includes people applying to come to the UK as a worker or student under the points-based system, people applying for leave to remain under Article 8 family/private life, and people applying for leave to remain under the five and ten-year family migration routes or long residence rule.
You do not need to pay the surcharge if you’re applying from outside the UK for a visitor visa or any visa that lasts 6 months or less.
The rules state that you do not need to pay the surcharge if you are applying for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), but there have been occasions when the Home Office have stated it is required and will be refunded if the application is successful. If you apply for indefinite leave to remain and are instead granted a form of limited leave to remain by the Home Office, you are likely to be asked to pay the surcharge.
You currently do not need to pay the surcharge if you are an EEA national (or family member of one) exercising treaty rights. You do not need to pay the surcharge if you are a national of Australia or New Zealand; a child under 18 who is in local authority care; or an identified victim of trafficking. You do not need to pay the surcharge if you are an asylum seeker or applying for humanitarian protection, or other protection under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Find a full list of exemptions to the surcharge here.
Surcharge doubled in 2019
As of January 2019, the charge is £300 per year for students (up from £150) and £400 per year for all other types of application (up from £200).
The charge is payable for each dependent as well as the main applicant. You have pay the total amount for the length of visa you are applying for, upfront. For example, if you are applying for a visa that is valid for two years, you would need to pay £800 with your application. You pay the surcharge via the government’s surcharge website.
If you can prove you are destitute, you can apply for a fee waiver on the basis that not getting a fee waiver would mean you couldn’t exercise your human rights under the ECHR. You can apply for a fee waiver of just the Immigration Health Surcharge if you are able to pay the fee for making the immigration/human rights application; or a fee waiver for both if you are unable to pay either.
If you are required to pay the surcharge as part of your application, and your application is then refused, the health surcharge is refunded.
We’ve updated the information on the health surcharge in the Right to Remain Toolkit:
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