Introduction of a UK Immigration health surcharge from 6 April 2015

Legislation coming into effect on 6 April will require nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) entering the UK for a period longer than six months to pay a “health surcharge” when they make their immigration application. It will also be paid by non-EEA nationals already in the UK who apply to extend their stay. The surcharge is one of the key reforms within the Immigration Act 2014, and the government see this measure as helping to ensure that these migrants make a proper financial contribution to the cost of their NHS care, which they estimate at £950m per annum being spent on temporary, non-EEA workers and students.

The health surcharge has been set at £200 per year for each applicant and £150 per year for students, payable upfront and for the total period of time for which the migrants are granted permission to stay in the UK.  Dependants will generally pay the same amount as the main applicant. Having paid the surcharge, the migrants will have the same access to the NHS as UK permanent residents while their visas remain valid. Non-EEA nationals visiting the UK on tourist visas will not pay the health surcharge but will be fully liable for the costs of any NHS treatment at the point they receive it.

As anticipated, migrants applying to work in the UK under the Tier 2 intra-company transfer provisions will be exempt from the surcharge. Australian and New Zealand nationals are also exempt as their governments have reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK. Other exemptions include those on tourist visas, refugees and victims of human trafficking.

Employers may need to factor in these costs, and consider wider issues including the tax implications if they pay the surcharge on behalf of their employees. Should you have any questions arising from this alert, please contact either your Magrath representative or [email protected] and we shall be pleased to assist.