The Conservative Party have confirmed that they would increase the Immigration Health Surcharge to £625 per year to over ‘the full cost of use’. Is this fair?
What is the Immigration Health Surcharge?
The Immigration Health Surcharge is a payment that migrants must pay when they apply for a UK visa. It is paid in full, in advance. The idea is that this goes towards the cost of them using the NHS.
How much is the Immigration Health Surcharge now?
The Immigration Health Surcharge was initially £200 per person, per year, with a lower amount for students. This doubled to £400 in January this year. The proposed increase would mean that the cost has more than tripled.
The independent fact checking charity Full Fact have so far not been able to identify how the figure of £625 per year was calculated. However, it overlooks the fact that those migrants who are in work also pay tax and national insurance contributions which go towards the NHS. If £625 per year is the full cost, then they will be paying more than their fair share once this is taken into account.
What does this mean in practice?
A person with a Tier 2 (General) visa for highly skilled employees must be in the UK for 5 years before that can apply to settle here. They will have to pay £3,125 in Immigration Health Surcharge in addition to various other application fees, booking fees etc. A family of 3 will be paying nearly £10,000 just in Immigration Health Surcharge.
This seems a curious way to attract the ‘best and brightest’ to the UK.