Monday, April 13, 2015

Conservative Government Introduce New NHS Health Charge For UK Migrants

UK Home Office will impose in a new ‘health surcharge’ on non-EU migrants to gain access to the NHS treatment at UK hospitals. Staring on 6 April, all citizens from outside of Europe who want to to live in the UK for longer than six months will be required to pay a ‘health surcharge’ before being issue with a visa or leave to remain.

Until now, all non-EEA national migrants coming to work, study or join family members automatically received free medical treatment in the UK’s NHS hospital and had the same access a permanent resident or British Citizen.

This has now changed as the Government wants to ensure “that those coming to the UK make an appropriate financial contribution to the cost of their healthcare”.

The health surcharge charge will also apply to non-EEA nationals already in the UK who apply to extend their stay.

The cost of health surcharge will be £200 per year and £150 per year for students - payable at the you apply for your UK visa.

UK Visa applicants will have to pay up-front for the total period of their stay in the UK, regardless of whether or not you actually use the NHS system.

The surcharge levels were set by the Conservative-led coalition Government, now fighting an election to come back into power on 7 May 2015, after taking into account the wide range of free health services available to migrants coming to live in the UK, whilst balancing that the valuable contribution they make to the economy.

Immigration and Security Minister, James Brokenshire said:

“The health surcharge will play a vital role in ensuring Britain’s most cherished public service is provided on a basis that is fair to all who use it. For generations, the British public have paid their taxes to help make the NHS what it is today – the surcharge will mean temporary migrants will also pay their way.

“And by keeping the surcharge at a competitive level, we are also recognising the contribution temporary migrants make to the wider economy.”

The Conservatives have been critical of the previous Labour administration which allowed open access to the NHS under what became known as ‘health tourism’, where people flew into to the UK to deliver a baby or receive treatment for diabetes or HIV.

The visa changes do not affect UK visitors coming to the UK on a standard visit visa, and tourists will have to pay for any treatment they receive from the NHS at the point of receiving it. 

Administering this at the point of treatment, for instance following an accident or in an A & E ward, has proved difficult in the past.

Intra-company transfer (ICT Tier 2 visa) will be exempt from the charges but must still complete the process through the surcharge website.

The surcharge levels are set at a lower rate the cost of medical insurance required in some competitor nations, and is less than Croatian nationals pay in medical insurance in order to obtain a Yellow Card permit to work and study in the UK.

I you are an overseas student, the health charge amounts to only 1% of the total cost of studying in the UK for a three year undergraduate course, the Home Office said.

Those who have paid will enjoy the same access to the NHS as a UK permanent resident for the duration of their visa. The money generated by the health surcharge will go directly to funding the NHS.

Migrants and students already here will not be affected by the change unless they extend their leave to remain in the UK.

Other recent tighter immigration measure include a crackdown on sham marriages and a reduction in the right of appeal against deportation of visa overstayers.

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