Immigration Health Surcharge or IHS is the UK healthcare charge that non-EEA migrants need to pay as part of their immigration application process.
The IHS allows immigrants to access free healthcare services of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
You will need to pay the IHS if you are;
- A national of non-EEA (European Economic Area) country.
- Making an immigration application to Work, Study or join your Family in the UK for more than 6 months.
Visitor visas and short-term visas for less than 6 months are excluded from paying for the IHS when applying from outside the UK.
For immigration applications made within the UK, you will need to pay the IHS irrespective of the length of your stay (excluding ILR applications).
However, there are several immigration categories that don’t require applicants to have an IHS reference number. ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) applicants, for instance, don’t have to pay for the IHS.
It’s best to refer to official guidelines or get professional advice from Immigration Lawyers if you are confused about paying for the IHS.
At Edmans & Co, our immigration lawyers would be happy to assist you with making your complete immigration application. Contact us today.
How to Pay IHS?
You will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your immigration application.
This is usually at the time of the booking if you are applying online or through a premium service centre.
If you are making an application using post, you will need to pay the IHS online and get an IHS reference number to enter on your application form.
To pay for the IHS and receive an IHS reference number, use the official payment service by UKVI.
You can make the IHS payment online using your debit or credit card.
You will be asked for the start and end dates mentioned on your COS (certificate of sponsorship) for work applications and your official course dates for application in the student category.
Once you have made the payment, you will receive an email with your IHS reference number. The number will also be seen at the end of the process once you have paid the specified amount.
You can then use the IHS number to proceed with your immigration application.
Immigration Health Surcharge Fees
The IHS fees are generally £400 per year for all visa and immigration applications. IHS fee doubled in January 2019. Tier 4 Students and Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa applicants pay a slightly reduced fee of £300 per year.
- £300 per year for a Student (Tier 4) and Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) applications.
- £400 per year for all other visa and immigration applications.
The total IHS fees will then depend on the length of your application. If your application includes part of the year less than 6 months, you will need to pay half of the yearly IHS fees for that period.
For example, an IHS fee payment for a spouse visa extension for 2.5 years will be exactly £1,000 per applicant in addition to the standard application fees.
The above-mentioned fees are correct as of writing this article. UKVI has increased the IHS fees by double from £200 to £400 per year starting 8th January 2019.
You can use the IHS checker service to calculate how much you’ll have to pay before making an application.
In cases where your application isn’t successful or if you withdraw your application, the IHS fees will be refunded back to you.
The IHS refund process is automatic and you don’t have to do anything for the refunds. The refunds are processed back to your account or card you used to make the payment.
It may often happen that you do not receive IHS fee refund automatically, for example because of the issues with the card you initially used for payment or technical issues on the UKVI side.
You should contact the UKVI if you don’t receive the refund or for any other issues related to IHS refunds.
Duration for IHS Refunds
IHS refunds are processed within 6 weeks from the decision of your application.
The process takes longer for applications that have then appeal the decision or applied for an administrative review following the refusal.
If you don’t receive your refund automatically within 6 weeks, you can contact the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) directly. There have been some recent changes in contacting UKVI and you might have to pay now for a guaranteed response.
Using NHS After Paying IHS
You will gain access to NHS services for free after you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge and your application is successful.
Dental treatment and Eye tests are however excluded from the free NHS services and you will have to pay for them even after paying for the IHS. You might also have to pay a fixed fee for each item on your prescription. Please speak to your GP practice for more information.
In most cases, you will need to present your BRP (biometric residence permit) card when you register for NHS or access healthcare services in the UK.
If you need professional legal advice on your immigration matter and regarding IHS issues, book a consultation with one of our immigration lawyers who will guide you in making the right IHS payment and help you complete your immigration application.