The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will go up from a price of £470 to £776 per year for students who are required to have a student visa to stay in the UK.
This healthcare surcharge has been included in the visa application process since 2015, meaning to cover immigrants’ contribution to the UK National Health Service (NHS).
The current fee is not only going up for students and applicants under the age of 18 but for everyone else who cannot stay in the UK without a visa.
People who are not eligible for a Student visa will have to pay an increased fee of £1,035, instead of the IHS fee of £624.
This recent increase to the IHS has been under deliberation since July 2023, and the UK Parliament officially accepted the Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2023 on 16 January 2024.
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The increased IHS fee is set to come into force on 6 February, meaning that prospective visa applicants are expected to have sufficient funds to cover a 66% higher fee towards the NHS.
The Government’s reason to decide upon amending the IHS was to make sure it still covers the “cost of average use of NHS services”, upholding immigrants’ support towards “the long-term sustainability of the NHS”.
John Glen, former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, also mentioned the rise in pay for doctors as one of the defining factors regarding this decision.
Notably, though, the NHS states as one of its principles that “access to NHS services is based on clinical need, not an individual’s ability to pay”, acknowledging that healthcare should be free of charge.
The Student asked current students from outside the UK on their perspective of the recent healthcare amendment, and on the IHS more generally.
79% of the students completing the survey agreed that its rise to £776 is “(Too) High”, with one of them sharing that the “price is appalling for what is mediocre medical service at best”.
Additionally, 43% of the students stated they would have been concerned about coming to the UK if the IHS fee had been £776 at the time of their visa applications.
Several students still expressed the usefulness and beneficial nature of the IHS, seeing why a certain fee may be necessary to cover healthcare expenses.
Nonetheless, the majority of students seems to share the sentiment that the fee increase will contribute to “the overarching oppressive immigration laws becoming more and more common in the UK” and that “the UK will definitely make immigrants pay a lot more money than everyone else cause we’re just an easy source of income.”