What are NHS Fees?
NHS stands for the National Health Service, which has the responsibility of providing quality healthcare for everyone. The healthcare the NHS provides covers most areas, including general practitioner services, specialist services when referred by general practitioners, maternity services, sexual health, minor injuries, emergencies, and accident services. The NHS provides these services to everyone for free at the point of use. However, British citizens fund it through taxes and National Insurance contributions.
Immigrants to the UK also have the right to basic healthcare, and it only makes sense that they contribute to the NHS running costs. Therefore, in 2015, the UK government introduced the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as a means of raising funds for the NHS. Non-British nationals in the UK will pay into the NHS purse for the duration they plan to stay up front.
After ten years, holders of many visas can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which leads to more permanent status. Holders of a Spouse Visa can achieve that status in less time, usually after five years of being resident in the UK.
Immigration Health Surcharge
The cost of the IHS has increased consistently since 2015 rising from £200 in 2015 to £624 in 2022, There are, however, specific categories of people who get a discount. Children under 18 years old and young individuals registered in the Youth Mobility Scheme need to pay the lower rate of £470. Migrant workers employed in the UK NHS also qualify for the lower amount.
Applicants for the Spouse Visa must pay the NHS fee during the application process. Holders of the Spouse Visa can attain permanent status in five years, after which they no longer need to pay the surcharge.
UK visa applicants must have paid the IHS for the duration of their stay in the UK before being granted ILR status. Individuals whose visa only permits them to stay in the country for six months must pay the equivalent of half the yearly cost, regardless if they do not plan to use the health system during their stay or have private health insurance. If they leave before the expiration of their visa, they may be able to apply for a partial refund of their NHS surcharge.
If the immigrants stay in the UK for more than six months, they have to pay the fees regardless of their private medical insurance coverage. Individuals with a Visitor Visa are exempted from paying the charge, while workers in the NHS are privileged to a discount. The NHS surcharge covers most of the primary health needs of the immigrants during their stays, such as hospital treatments, general practitioner appointments, and accidents and emergency services.
Benefiting from the UK healthcare system
Anyone can access the UK’s national health service for free, provided they are citizens or legal residents. Immigrants can also benefit from the system as soon as they enter the UK by providing an IHS reference number. The reference number is given to them after paying the surcharge.
The fee covers basic healthcare needs like minor injuries, general practitioners, and maternity services. However, services around prescriptions and eye and dental care, such as eye examinations, are not covered by the surcharge and would attract additional costs. Specialist services may also attract additional charges if a general practitioner does not refer you. Some may need evidence of your visa status to use the healthcare system as an immigrant.
How Can London Immigration Lawyers Help?
The Spouse Visa application associated fees are quite substantial. And as such, you want to ensure there are no mistakes in your application, so the money spent does not go to waste. Applying for the Spouse visa while ensuring all paperwork is correct is quite daunting. However, a little assistance from experts will go a long way.
This is where our services come in. Our London immigration lawyers can assist you with your visa application. Our immigration lawyers will help you complete your application to the best standard. Not only that, you will also get a recommendation letter to help strengthen your application.
Last modified on July 21st, 2023 at 6:28 am
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A spouse with a partner visa can begin to enjoy the health system benefits as soon as they arrive in the UK. After paying the NHS fee, the applicant will be given an IHS reference number which they can use to benefit from the health system. Immigrants can book a meeting with general practitioners and medical treatment immediately.
A spouse in the UK must pay the NHS fee until their visa expires or they achieve permanent settlement status. Permanent settlement is also known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Immigrants can reach the status after staying in the UK for ten years consecutively with regular visas; with the spouse visa, it can be achieved in five years. After their spouse’s visa expires, if they have not attained permanent settlement, they can apply for leave to remain (LR), which gives them two more years of stay.
A spouse can extend their stay in the UK by applying for an extended visa or leave to remain. The process usually takes six months, during which the applicant must not travel out of the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or Ireland. The applicant can opt for the fast-track application package by paying £800 for the super-priority visa service.