Thank you for contacting me about visa fees and the Health Surcharge.
I am assured that the Home Office has given careful consideration to individual fee levels to ensure that those who use and benefit directly from the immigration and border system make an appropriate contribution to the costs of managing it. I understand your concerns, but I do believe that this is fair and helps to reduce public spending on the system.
Visa, immigration, and citizenship fees are set at a level that helps provide resources necessary to operate the border, immigration and citizenship system, reducing burden on the UK taxpayer.
Similarly the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) provides an important means of ensuring that migrants make an appropriate financial contribution to the NHS while living in the UK with a time-limited immigration status. It is collected by the Home Office as part of the visa and immigration application process and the proceeds are distributed to the NHS in all parts of the UK to support our health services. Those paying the IHS are then exempt from NHS overseas visitor charges for treatment they receive in the UK, and enjoy broadly the same access to the NHS as UK nationals. Those with indefinite leave to remain and vulnerable groups, including asylum seekers and refugees, are exempt from the IHS.
After a review of the evidence regarding the average cost to the NHS of treating IHS payers, the annual surcharge will now cost £400 per annum, with a discounted rate of £300pa for students (and their dependants) and Youth Mobility Scheme applicants. The Department of Health and Social Care estimates that the average annual cost of NHS usage by those paying the IHS is £470, so the proposed amount is still below full average cost recovery level. It is important the UK protects its reputation as a great place to live, work and study, and increasing the IHS still offers access to far more comprehensive services at a lower cost than some of our main competitor countries.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.