Before commencing any project, it is always wise to calculate the costs involved, so as to be prepared. The result of failing to calculate the time and costs associated with submitting a UK settlement visa application to enter the UK, or applying for further leave to remain (FLR) to switch or extend an existing partner or spousal visa from within the UK, may cause unnecessary hardship for both the applicant and their British partner of spouse. While most immigration practitioners prepare clients for potential annual increases in the general visa fees around April of each year, there has been another surprising announcement suggesting that the mandatory NHS immigration healthcare surcharge, otherwise known as the IHS/NHS fee, is likely to double in the coming months.
The immigration healthcare surcharge was introduced to visa applicants in April 2015. It applies to all non-EEA nationals seeking to remain in the UK for over six months regardless of nationality, outside of the visitor visa category. Those who apply for an unmarried partner or spouse visa fall into this category and are therefore required to pay the surcharge as part of their immigration application. The current NHS fee is £600 per applicant or £500 if an application is made from within the UK, which is an equivalent of £200 for each year of upcoming residence in the UK under the partner visa route.
The Home Office has outlined plans to double the mandatory NHS surcharge later this year. The impact of the increase upon families will be tremendous, as couples with dependent children who are not British, can expect to pay the mandatory immigration surcharge for each child applying for entry clearance or a visa extension (further leave to remain) in addition to the parent applying at the same time. This fee is not a reduced version of the adult fee, as one would hope; the full fee applies to any child regardless of age.
The reason for the healthcare surcharge is to offset the additional costs of new patients from outside of the UK and assist the NHS with the provision of healthcare to all service users. While many people may decide to pay for their healthcare privately through a private insurance provider, or whether ones general health means that they rarely need medical attention or prescriptions, the NHS still requires that all visa applicants pay the fee regardless of if their local GP or hospital is ever attended by the applicant.
It is important to factor in the above fee with the UKVI visa application fee which at present stands almost £1,500 per applicant, additionally included in the application fee process is that of postage and delivery to the Home Office Sheffield Visa Office depending on the location of the applicant. Should the applicant decide that the application needs to be expedited (10 to 15 day turnaround), they are required to pay over £500 on top of the application fee. This fee is doubled or even tripled depending on how many dependent children are applying to come and settle in the UK with the main applicant.