By Ramzan Sharif, Solicitor/Director at Fountain Solicitors
On 6th April 2015, the government introduced a Health Surcharge for all non-EEA (European Economic Area) migrants who come to the United Kingdom for over 6 months. Migrants coming to the UK to work, study or join family will have to contribute £200 each (reduced to £150 for students) for every year that they are in the UK, regardless of whether they use the NHS or not. The surcharge will also apply to anyone in the UK already who needs to extend his or her visa. There are some exceptions for example Tier 2 inter-company transfers, children under the care of the local authority and nationals of Australia and New Zealand to name a few.
It is estimated that the surcharge will raise £200 million a year for the NHS. Official figures from 2011-12 show that the NHS spent £12 million on foreigner’s health (or 0.01 per cent of the NHS’s annual budget). The NHS is therefore set to make quite a gain.
The new Health Surcharge has come as a shock to many existing migrants with leave to remain in the United Kingdom. Parents on low incomes are being hit hardest as they are now expected to pay fees reaching into the thousands in advance of submitting their application for leave to remain. This is in addition to the Home Office fee, many of which have increased substantially since 6th April 2015. For example, a mother of 2 children looking to extend her leave to remain for a further 3 years would need to pay £3747 in advance of submitting the application to cover the cost of the application and Health Surcharge. If the fee isn’t paid and the application not made, the whole family would become illegal and potentially face removal. Those in this position had very little, if any warning.
At the opposite end of the scale, many highly valued and skilled workers, entrepreneurs and investors who have been significantly contributing into the tax system will find that they are also expected to pay the surcharge.
The Health Surcharge Order does allow for the health charge to be waivered in certain cases and there exists a general discretion for a reduction to be granted although how this will be applied is yet to be seen.
The team at Fountain Solicitors are working with new and previous clients to help to prepare them for the impending fees and assisting them with applications for a Home Office fee and Health Surcharge waiver or reduction. We will be bringing legal challenges against the Secretary of State to obtain a fairer deal for our clients.
If you are an individual or a business who has any concerns about the above and would like some further information, please contact us on 01922 645 429.
Fountain Solicitors have over 25 staff and specialise in Family Law, Employment Law, Personal Injury, National Security, Wills/Affidavits and Immigration Law.
36 Bradford Street
Tel: 01922 645 429