The House of Lords has today approved the proposed doubling of the Immigration Health Surcharge from £200 per year for each migrant to £400 per year.
Migrants coming to the UK with visas for more than six months, such as skilled workers with Tier 2 General visas and the Spouses of British Citizens with a Spouse Visa, will now be required to pay twice the previous rate toward the running of the National Health Service.
Migrants coming to the UK as visitors, who are not required to have health insurance and will not be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This is ironic, given that the Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced in response to reports of ‘health tourism’, this being migrants coming to the UK with visitor visas to use the NHS, and these are the only migrants that will not have to pay this charge.
Migrants who will be required to pay this excessive increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge are predominantly working and paying Tax and National Insurance, thus contributing to the National Health Service in the same way as any other person in the UK.
It was already iniquitous that migrants had to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge at all as they are, effectively, paying twice for healthcare. To double this charge only makes the UK less attractive and puts further hurdles in the way of employers bringing skilled workers to the UK and British Citizens bringing their family members.
The high level of application fees for UK visas has previously been raised as an issue, with the Home Office charging far in excess of the cost of processing such applications. Employers now must pay an Immigration Skills Charge when assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship to a skilled worker, who must then pay (in reality, an employer will often pay) the visa application fees and Immigration Health Surcharge costs.
The Government probably think they are on safe ground raising the Immigration Health Surcharge to this heady level, but it is further evidence of the hostile environment they are determined to maintain.
It remains to be seen how this will impact children, NHS employees (who often do not earn excessive salaries but will have to pay excessive fees), employers and families.