UK Immigration introduces NHS surcharge for Australians
In a surprising move, the UK Home Office has announced that citizens from New Zealand and Australia will no longer be exempt from the UK Immigration Health Surcharge.
From 6 April 2016, citizens of Australia and New Zealand applying for a UK Visa longer than six months or who are applying from within the UK to extend their stay will be liable to the £200 per annum surcharge as part of their UK immigration application.
The UK Immigration Health Surcharge was first introduced in April 2015, to all non-EEA nationals (excluding Australia and New Zealand) applying for UK visas longer than six months.
It was introduced to ensure that non-EEA Nationals make an appropriate financial contribution to the cost of making use of the National Health Service (NHS). Before the introduction of the surcharge, non-EEA nationals coming to the UK had access to the NHS as if they were permanent residents.
Citizens from Australia and New Zealand were exempted, as their governments had reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK Government, which exempted them from having to pay this surcharge. This is however now changing with the inclusion of these citizens from 6 April 2016.
Visitors to the UK
The surcharge does not apply to non-EEA nationals coming to the UK for six months or less, or those visiting the UK with a visitor visa. These persons will however still be fully liable for the cost of any National Health Service (NHS) treatment they receive in the UK, during their stay in the UK.
However, citizens of Australia and New Zealand who visit the UK for less than six months will be exempted from having to pay for NHS treatment if the treatment cannot wait until they return home. This exemption is in place due to reciprocal healthcare agreements in place between the UK and these two countries.
Certain categories of UK Visa applications are exempted from having to pay the UK Immigration Health Surcharge. This includes; Intra-company transfers under the Tier 2 immigration route, dependents of a member of Her Majesty’s Forces and migrants who apply under the Home Office concession known as the ‘destitute domestic violence concession’.
The health surcharge is also not payable by applicants applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or British citizenship.
Cost of the UK Health Surcharge
The UK Immigration Health Surcharge is £200 per year. Dependents applying for visas are also subject to the surcharge.
When applying for your visa, you will have to pay to cover the whole period of stay for each application. As an example, if you are applying for a UK Ancestry Visa for five years, you will have to pay £1,000 (£200 x 5 years).
Tier 4 Students pay a lower rate of £150 per year for students.
Persons, aged between 18 and 30, applying to come to the UK on the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, also benefit from a discounted rate of £150 per person per year. This is the same rate payable by Tier 4 Students.
From 6 April 2016, all UK visa applications have to be accompanied by the surcharge. It is payable for the total period of the UK visa being applied for. The amount will be collected as part of the immigration application, and the payment is mandatory.
Australians and New Zealanders who apply for their visas before the introduction of the fee on 6 April 2016, will not be subject to this surcharge, and there will be no backdated liability.
We recommend that all clients from Australia and New Zealand, who wish to avoid having to pay the additional health surcharge when applying for a UK visa, contact Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants without delay.
Unsuccessful UK Visa Applications
Should your UK visa application be unsuccessful, you will receive a refund for your UK Immigration Health Surcharge, from the UK Home Office.
For more information about your unique circumstances, please contact your BIC consultant today.