The mandatory Immigration Health Surcharge allows students and temporary workers to access the NHS.
All UK visas with a validity of over six months now cost twice as much for non-EU migrants as new rules came into effect today, following a decision by the British government to double the Immigration Health Surcharge.
The IHS, which is mandatory, was rolled out in 2015. It allows students and temporary workers to access the National Health Service (NHS) in the same way UK citizens do during their stay.
A Home Office spokesperson told Hindustan Times on Monday: “Migrants who make an application on or after January 8, 2019, will pay the new surcharge rate”.
According to another Hindustan Times report, the surcharge for non-EU nationalsit has been raised to £400 a year which currently stands at £200 a year. This is a move that has been described as “unfair and discriminatory” by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO).
The same surcharge has been increased from £150 to £300 for discounted study visas under the Youth Mobility Scheme (Tier-5 visa).
The cost for a general or family visa is nearly £92, on average, while a long-term visa can cost somewhere in the region of £821, according to Times of India.
The increase in costs will bring in much-needed funds to the NHS outlined by the Home Office previously. BAPIO highlighted that the surcharge will prevent other non-EU doctors from coming to the UK at a time when NHS staff are already in severely short supply.
“This surcharge is unfair and discriminatory as it does not apply to EU nationals,” said BAPIO. “The NHS is funded through income tax and national insurance contributions.”
After post-Brexit plans, there will be visa changes. UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said, “will bring net migration down to more sustainable levels”.
The UK becomes the latest country in the West to clamp down on immigration with this move. According to The Economic Times, President Trump also sought stricter screening for US visas. Australia has also rehauled its immigration program according to The Guardian, reducing the duration on its temporary work visas by two years.