Authors

Vikki Wiberg

Senior Counsel

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Will Liebrecht

Immigration Adviser

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Authors

Vikki Wiberg

Senior Counsel

Read More

Will Liebrecht

Immigration Adviser

Read More

29 November 2023

UK visas – substantial Immigration Health Surcharge increase from January 2024

  • Quick read

Anyone considering making a UK visa application will be interested to know that the UK government recently announced that, subject to the approval of Parliament, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) paid for most visa applications to cover healthcare costs in the UK, will increase on or shortly after 16 January 2024.

Unlike the usual incremental fee increases, the IHS will increase by 66%:

  • For adult applicants, the fee will increase from £624 per year to £1,035 per year.
  • For under-18s, Youth Mobility Scheme and Student applicants, the fee will rise from £470 to £776 per year.

For a family of four applying for a three year visa, the IHS cost alone will be almost £11,000 – £4,000 more than the current fee.

This IHS increase follows hot on the heels of 15-20% increases to most visa fees which came into effect in October 2023. These two changes represent a significant increase in the cost of applying to come to the UK or stay in the UK.

As many visa applications can be submitted up to three months before a planned move to the UK or into a new sponsored job, we recommend that where possible, applicants – and for sponsored workers, their employers – consider whether they can submit applications before 15 January 2024 to beat the increase. Employers may also wish to consider whether they meet visa applicants and their families' application fees (noting that some fees must be met by the employer) and discuss whether to use repayment agreements where fees are covered if sponsored staff leave their roles earlier than expected.

In addition to the IHS increase, other significant changes are also on the horizon. These include:

  • Significantly higher fines for employers for illegal working in January 2024.
  • The introduction of automatic switching from pre-settled status to settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme during 2024.
  • The move to an entirely digital immigration system by the end of 2024.
  • A potential proposed increase to minimum base salaries for sponsored visas (particularly Skilled Workers) and the removal of shortage occupation concessions.

Look out for our upcoming updates on these topics for more details.

If you need support with an upcoming visa application or if you're an employer and have questions about your immigration or sponsor compliance or these changes, please do get in touch with your usual adviser.

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