From 6 April 2015, any non-EEA National coming to the UK for more than 6 months or who is already in the UK and wishes to extend their visa must make a financial contribution to the NHS to be able to use it in the same way as UK permanent residents.
There are exceptions to the rule, including Tier 2 ICT migrants and Australian and New Zealand Nationals who must still complete the process, but do not have to pay the fee. Other persons who are exempt are those applying as visitors coming to the UK for up to six months and Turkish Nationals making an application under the Turkish European Communities Association Agreement, for example the Turkish Business person visa.
The surcharge is set at £200 per year (and £150 for students), with dependents generally paying the same amount as the main applicant.
Payment of the surcharge will be a mandatory requirement and will need to be made as part of the immigration application process. If the applicant is applying from outside the UK then the fee must be paid online after completing the online visa application form, paying the visa fee and booking a visa application centre appointment. Applicants will then be given a unique surcharge number. Full details as to how payment can be made when applicants are applying to extend their visa from inside the UK will be made available on the gov.uk website on 6 April 2015.
The total of the annual surcharges for the full visa period must be paid up front at the point of application. For example, a person coming to the UK as a sponsored skilled migrant for three years will be required to pay the charge in full for the three-year period at the point of application for their visa, which will be £600. If they bring two dependants with them for three years each, then the total amount payable will be £1800.
Tier 2 ICT migrants, Australian Nationals and New Zealand Nationals are exempt from paying this fee, however they are still required to complete the process online or at the point of extension and will receive a unique reference number which they must keep.
Therefore each applicant must ensure that they have completed their immigration application and paid the surcharge (or just obtained their unique reference number if exempt) at the point of making their application and before they submit or send their application and supporting documents from outside the UK or before they attend their premium appointment or post their application from inside the UK.
If the applicant leaves the UK earlier than planned, they will not get a partial refund on their payment. They will also not get a refund if they do not use the NHS during their stay inside the UK.
It is important to note that the introduction of the payment will not extend existing processing times, but is merely an extra payment to cover the costs of the UK’s National Health Service.
If you require any further information on this, then please do not hesitate to contact us.