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Media factsheet: Immigration Health Surcharge

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The Prime Minister announced that all NHS workers, health and social care staff would now be exempted from the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).

The purpose of the NHS surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives. NHS, wider health and social care workers from abroad who are granted visas are doing this already through the fantastic contribution they make.

Revenue from the IHS goes directly into the NHS and it is only right that migrants using our NHS make a fair contribution towards it.

This is why the government is delivering on its manifesto commitment to increase the Immigration Health Surcharge so that it is at a level that broadly reflects the cost of providing treatment.

Key facts

  • The immigration health surcharge was introduced in 2015.
  • It was introduced to ensure temporary migrants make a fair contribution to the comprehensive range of NHS services available to them during their stay.
  • Having paid the surcharge, migrants may access the NHS on broadly the same basis as UK residents.
  • The Surcharge is paid by temporary migrants, coming to the UK for 6 months or more, subject to a few exemptions.
  • A number of nations from around the world, including Australia and America, require migrants to take out private health insurance before accessing their healthcare services without further charge, which can be more expensive than the Health Surcharge and may not include coverage for pre-existing conditions.
  • The Immigration Health Surcharge gives the peace of mind of a flat fee while continuing to offer excellent coverage and value for money, compared with a mandatory health insurance system for migrants.

Key stats:

  • Income from the Immigration Health Surcharge goes directly into the NHS. It has raised approximately £900 million for the NHS since its introduction, to the end of the 18/19 financial year.
  • The additional income the Immigration Health Surcharge generates provides an important contribution to sustaining our NHS, including recruiting 50,000 nurses and delivering 50 million more GP appointments.

Surcharge increase:

  • Subject to Parliamentary approval, the UK government will increase the surcharge as per the manifesto commitment the people voted for just six months ago. This increase will be introduced as of 1 October.
  • The Immigration Health Surcharge will be raised from £400 to £624 a year for most visas, so that a fair contribution is made to broadly reflect the cost of providing treatment.

Schemes to support migrants in paying IHS:

  • There will continue to be a discounted rate for students and those on the youth mobility scheme, which will be set at £470 per year.
  • A new discounted rate for all children under the age of 18 will be introduced. This rate will also be £470 per person per year, in line with students and the youth mobility scheme.

Home Office support for the NHS during coronavirus:

  • We are immensely grateful for the work all NHS employees and social workers are making to tackle coronavirus, this is why we have offered a number of schemes to support them during this time.
  • This includes a bereavement scheme which entitles the families of any migrant who tragically dies as a result of contacting coronavirus while working for the NHS, including support staff, independent healthcare providers, or is a social care worker, immediate indefinite leave to remain, free of charge, enabling them to stay in the UK on a permanent basis.
  • Furthermore, to bring peace of mind and to recognise the contribution of frontline NHS and other eligible health workers during this pandemic, we announced free and automatic visa extensions for them.
  • Our visa extension is for eligible healthcare workers whose visas expire between 31 March and 1st October 2020.
  • The extension will apply to around 3,000 migrant healthcare workers.
  • The visa extension will also apply to their family members, demonstrating how valued overseas NHS staff are to the UK.

Points-based System and the NHS:

  • Our new immigration system will make it easier and quicker for medical professionals around the world to work in the NHS through the new fast-track Health Visa.
  • This Health Visa was also a manifesto pledge and will include lower visa fees and fast-tracked visa processing.

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