A 'health surcharge' of up to £200 will apply from April 2015

Long stay Indian visitors, students, professionals to pay for NHS access

Archana Venkatraman

The UK government will introduce a 'health surcharge' from April 6, 2015 under which Indians coming to live in the UK for longer than six months will have to pay up to £200 per year upfront while applying for a visa.

St George Hospital in Tooting, London
St George Hospital in Tooting, London
Image courtesy: Twitter

This means, Indians coming to the UK for work, to study or to join family members will no longer receive free medical treatment under the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) in the same way as permanent residents.

The 'health surcharge' will be £150 per year for students and £200 per year for all other long-stay visitors. It will be payable at the time of visa application. Applicants will need to pay upfront for the total period of their UK visa. This means Indians applying for a two-year visa will have to pay £400 (about 35,000 INR) in addition to the visa cost.

The new surcharge is applicable only for nationals from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA). The rules are aimed at making those coming to the UK from outside of the EEA make an appropriate financial contribution to the cost of their healthcare.

The charge will also be paid by non-EEA nationals already in the UK who apply to extend their stay. But short term Indian holidaymakers coming to visit the UK on a six-month visa will not be affected. Also, those coming to the UK on an intra-company transfer (ICT Tier 2 visa) will be exempt from the charges but must still complete the process through the surcharge website.

According to UK government figures, in England alone, NHS spend on overseas visitors and migrants is estimated to cost up to £2 billion a year – with £950 million of this being spent on temporary, non-EEA workers and students.

The surcharge will help UK raise £200 million a year. “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," said British Immigration and Security Minister, James Brokenshire.

According to him, the surcharge levels are lower than the cost of medical insurance required in some of our competitor nations and, for overseas students, the surcharge represents only 1% of the total cost of studying in the UK for a three year undergraduate course.

The government also confirmed that in case an application is rejected or withdrawn, the surcharge will be refunded.

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