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News added on 12.10.2020

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Migrant workers

Increase in Immigration Health Surcharge

The Immigration Health Surcharge, which allows long-term migrants to access NHS services, is increasing to £624 per year. Is this something you need to worry about?

The Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2020 will increase the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) from £400 to £624 a year from 27 October 2020. Students and those who are on the Youth Mobility Scheme will then need to pay a discounted rate of £470 (up from £300). Dependants usually need to pay the same amount as the migrant. There are some exemptions from paying the IHS, including asylum seekers and certain NHS workers, and it also doesn’t need to be paid for visitor visas or by those applying for a visa of six months or less from outside the UK. Importantly, although the IHS currently only applies to non-EEA citizens applying for temporary leave to enter or remain in the UK, it will be extended to EEA citizens applying to come to the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards, i.e. those who don’t have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

The IHS is paid upfront as part of the migrant’s immigration application for the total period of their visa, so a three-year work visa will require a payment of £1,872 under the new fee structure. As for part-years, the migrant must pay half of the yearly amount if their application includes part of a year that is less than six months, and must pay for a whole year if their application includes part of a year that is more than six months.

Although it’s the migrant’s responsibility to pay the IHS as part of their online visa or immigration application (or before completing their application if they make their immigration application by post), some employers do agree to pay it on behalf of their sponsored workers. It still needs to be paid even if the migrant has private medical insurance.

If you agree to fund the IHS cost for sponsored workers, and perhaps also their dependants, consider asking such workers to sign a repayment agreement allowing you to recoup the monies on a sliding scale should they leave your employment within, say, two years, i.e. with the amount to be repaid reducing by 1/24th for each complete month of their employment. Ensure your agreement includes provision for the sum to be deducted from the worker’s final wages payments and, if that’s not sufficient to meet the debt due, for them to repay the balance within a month of their employment termination date.

The migrant is responsible for paying the IHS for themselves and their dependants, not their employer. Once the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020, it will also need to be paid by EEA citizens applying to come to the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards. However, if you do agree to pay it on behalf of your sponsored workers, consider asking them to sign a repayment agreement to protect your position.

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