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Immigration Health Surcharge - What Is It and Who Needs to Pay?

The majority of UK visa applicants will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) on top of their application fees. If you are outside of the UK, and applying for limited leave to remain in the UK for more than 6 months, you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge fee unless you fall into one of few exceptions. If you are applying for a visa from within the UK, you will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge regardless of the length of your leave, unless you are applying for indefinite leave.

Examples of visas that do not exceed 6 months are Visitor Visas and Fiance Visas. Applicants via these routes do not need to pay the IHS.

Why do I have to pay Immigration Health Surcharge?

Payment of the IHS entitles you to access any healthcare services that are offered by the NHS. This payment is not optional; you cannot opt out on the basis that you don’t foresee needing health care during your leave. You must still pay the Immigration Health Surcharge even if you have private health insurance.

Am I exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge?

Very few applicants are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge. If you fall in to one of the following categories you do not have to pay the fee or obtain a reference number from the IHS service:

  • you’re applying for indefinite leave to enter or remain (note that if you apply for ILR but are only granted limited leave, you will be informed that you need to pay the IHS.)
  • you’re a health and care worker who is eligible for a Health and Care Worker visa (or you’re their dependant)
  • you’re applying to the EU Settlement Scheme
  • you’re a diplomat or a member of a visiting armed forces and not subject to immigration control
  • you’re a dependant of a member of the UK’s armed forces
  • you’re the dependant of a member of another country’s armed forces who is exempt from immigration control
  • you’re applying for a visa for the Isle of Man or Channel Islands
  • you’re a British Overseas Territory citizen resident in the Falkland Islands
  • you’re an asylum seeker or applying for humanitarian protection (or you’re their dependant)
  • you’re a domestic worker who has been identified as a victim of slavery or human trafficking
  • you’re applying for discretionary leave to remain in the UK as someone who has been identified as a victim of slavery or human trafficking (or you’re their dependant)
  • the Home Office’s domestic violence concession applies to you (or you’re their dependant)
  • being made to leave the UK would be against your rights under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (or you’re their dependant)
  • you’re an S2 Healthcare Visitor
  • you’re eligible for a Frontier Worker permit and have an S1 certificate. 

If you are a child under 18 who has been taken into care; a civilian employee at NATO; a civilian employee at the Australian Department of defence in the UK, or a dependent of one of these employees, you will still need to obtain an Immigration Health Surcharge reference number via the relevant online service, but you will not need to pay the fee. The IHS online system will automatically recognise if you are exempt from the fee. Those exempt from paying the fee will still be able to use the NHS.

If you are eligible for a fee waiver when making your application, your Immigration Health Surcharge fee will also be waived. Applicants must meet a very high threshold to prove that they cannot afford their application fee, and the fee waiver policy only applies to certain types of application. You can read more about the Home Office’s fee waiver policy here

How much is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

The IHS is subject to change. Currently, according to the website you will have to pay:

  • £470 per year for a student or Youth Mobility Scheme visa, for example £940 for a 2-year visa.
  • £470 per year for visa and immigration applicants who are under the age of 18 at time of application.
  • £624 per year for all other visa and immigration applications

You do not need to pay the surcharge if you’re applying from outside the UK for 6 months or less. If you’re applying from inside the UK for 6 months or less, you’ll have to pay half the yearly cost. For example, £235 for a student, Youth Mobility Scheme or under-18 applications, and £312 for any other application. If you’re applying for more than than 6 months but less than one year you will have to pay the cost of a full year wherever you apply from.

When do I pay the IHS?

You will pay the Immigration Health Surcharge when you submit your visa application online. You will automatically be redirected to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge before paying the application fee for your application. You will have to register to use the IHS service and answer questions relating to your application to ascertain whether you need to pay the charge. After paying, you will be sent an email with your IHS reference number.

If you are in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, you will need to pay by cash at the UK embassy.

What will happen if I don’t pay the Immigration Health Surcharge?

Failure to pay the immigration health surcharge will result in an invalid application under paragraph 34(4) of the Immigration Rules. Your application will not be considered; it will be turned down within 10 working days if you’re inside the UK, and within 7 working days if you’re outside the UK.

What if my application is refused?

The IHS is refunded to refused applicants. The refund is not immediate: it may take up to six weeks to process. If you choose to appeal or pursue administrative review on the back of a refusal, the refund of your Immigration Health Surcharge will not happen until after these proceedings are concluded.

Contact our Immigration Barristers 

For expert advice and assistance on the Immigration Health Surcharge or any related visa or immigration application, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


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