Parliament is expected to approve the Government’s proposal to double the Immigration Health Surcharge from 18 December 2018.
The Immigration Health Surcharge is currently paid by most visa applicants intending to remain in the UK for more than six months. This includes Spouses of British Citizens and those coming to work in the UK under the Tier 2 General visa.
The current rate for most visa applicants is £200 for each year of visa grant. This is set to double to £400 per year of visa grant for most applicants.
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said:
“Our NHS is always there when you need it, paid for by British taxpayers. 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-terms sustainability.
I am pleased that we are a step closer to implementing the changes to the health surcharge and the extra money raised will go directly towards sustaining and protecting our world-class healthcare system.
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 will still continue to offer a good deal on healthcare for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily.”
The NHS is, of course, not paid for just by “British taxpayers” – those who are working in the UK are paying tax and National Insurance are already contributing to the NHS, whether they are here with a long-term visa, as the partner of a British Citizen, an EU Citizen or a British Citizen.
There can be no argument that those here with Tier 2 work visas should make a “fair contribution” to the NHS. The problem with this policy is that they already make the same fair contribution to the NHS that British Citizens make as they pay tax and National Insurance.
To make them pay more than a fair contribution by making them pay the Immigration Health Surcharge in addition to their tax and National Insurance contributions is already clearly unfair. To double this tax is to further penalise those hard-working migrants who the Government claim are welcome in the UK.
Home Office application fees have already been under scrutiny for their excessively high levels. An application for Indefinite Leave to Remain using the same-day service can cost up to £3,074 for each applicant (partners and children are charged at the same rate) while the internal cost to the Home Office of processing the application is said to be in the region of £400.
The Immigration Skills Charge further hits Companies who need to bring highly-skilled key workers to the UK and doubling the Immigration Health Surcharge will further hit those same Companies.
This issue was first raised in response to stories about people coming to the UK with visitor visas with the intent of using the NHS and never paying toward it. Instead of simply requiring visitors to have health insurance for the term of their visitor visas, the Government introduced the Immigration Health Surcharge. This is not actually paid by visitors and is instead paid by those who will be living and working in the UK and paying tax and National Insurance contributions.
Migrants who come to the UK to work are said by the Government to bring value to the UK, yet the Government seek to take more money from their pockets under the guise of them being required to make a “fair contribution” to the NHS, when those same migrants already pay toward the NHS through their tax and National Insurance contributions.