UK visa costs increase significantly for Indians, non-EU migrants
The overall cost for a UK visa for Indians as well as non-EU citizens will increase from Tuesday after plans to increase the immigration health surcharge (IHS) were approved.
Introduced in 2015, the IHS is payable when students, professionals, and family members apply for a UK visa, and enables migrants to access the UK's National Health Service (NHS).
Here are the details.
UK visa gets more expensive from today
IHS has been doubled for Indians, non-EU migrants
In October last year, we had reported that plans to increase the surcharge were in place.
Now, it has been confirmed that the UK is doubling the IHS, from the current £200 a year to £400 a year for regular migrants.
For students under the Youth Mobility Scheme, the IHS is also being doubled from the current £150 to £300.
Since its introduction, IHS has raised over £600mn
Since 2015, the IHS has raised over £600mn from Indians and other non-EU migrants with visas valid for over six months. The IHS is not levied on migrants who achieve the status of permanent residents after an extended period of legal stay in the UK.
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All categories of migrants will be affected
It has also been confirmed that migrants who apply for a UK visa on or after January 8 will have to pay this new surcharge.
In case you were wondering, the hike will affect all migrants from non-EU states as well as from India - professionals, students, and family members.
IHS is to be levied over and above other visa-related costs.
Some, however, think the plan is detrimental for the UK
That said, the plan did not go through unopposed.
The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), which is working with health authorities to meet NHS shortages by recruiting from India on an 'Earn, Learn, and Return' basis, opposed the move.
It wrote to UK home secretary Sajid Javid, saying that the move was discriminatory.
Why BAPIO is opposed to the move
"We believe a further charge of £200 per head is unfair and discriminatory. NHS is finding it difficult to recruit and retain staff; such measures by the Home Office will further deter high quality international medical graduates to come and work for the NHS," argued BAPIO.
Home Office maintains that it's only right migrants pay more
However, the Home Office maintains that the move is a step in the right direction.
It maintains that the NHS is a comprehensive health program that offers state-of-the-art medical facilities at low costs, but owing to it being a national program, its only right that migrants using it pay an extra share to contribute to the NHS' long-term sustainability.
UK: We'll still offer a good deal on healthcare
"It is only fair that people who come to the UK make a contribution to the running of the NHS, and even with the increase we still continue to offer a good deal on health for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily," said immigration minister Caroline Nokes.