UK Government Increase Immigration Fees
The UK Government has announced increases for both the Immigration Health Surcharge and for Visa application fees.
The Immigration Health Surcharge:
On 13 July 2023, it was announced that the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will increase by 66%, from £624 to £1,035 per year for most applicants.
This change is expected to impact a large majority of UK visa applicants, who will now be expected to pay £1,035 per year of visa – meaning that an applicant for a five-year visa may soon need to pay a total IHS of £5,175 at the time of their application, rather than £3,120.
The price for children, students, and youth mobility visa applicants will see an increase from £470 to £776 per year. In April 2015, when the IHS was first introduced, applicants only had to pay £200 per year. This comparatively small payment was presented as a proportionate contribution to the UK’s National Health Service – but IHS fees now make up the bulk of visa-associated costs for most applications.
The IHS increases will not affect all migrants, as some applicants are not required to pay the IHS – for example, those applying for a visitor visa, a fiancé visa, indefinite leave to remain, settlement under the EU settlement scheme, health and care worker visas or British citizenship. There are also various other exceptions.
For migrants applying under sponsored work routes, such as for the skilled worker and senior or specialist worker visas, this increase in costs is likely to result in ‘claw back’ clauses becoming more common in employment contracts. Where employers cover all of the costs of the visa application in the first instance, they will want to have the right to insist on repayment of these higher fees if the employee decides to leave the company sooner than anticipated.
While the UK Government has not yet confirmed when this increase to the health surcharge will take effect, it is expected that it will not be before 2024, as the legal process for making this change is more complex than that for increasing visa application fees.
UK Visa Application Fees:
The Government has also announced increases to UK visa application fees, to take effect from 4 October 2023.
The fees for most work and visit visas will increase by 15%, while the application fees for student visas from overseas will increase by 35%. Most other applications fall somewhere between these two increases. You can see the full list of fee increases here. Of particular interest to our clients will be the new skilled worker visa application fees: applications from overseas will, as from 4 October 2023, carry a fee of £719 for a three-year visa and £1,420 for a five-year visa, while in-country applications will cost £827 for a three-year visa and £1,500 for a five-year visa.
The fee for assigning a certificate of sponsorship, currently £199, will increase by £40, up to £239. This change will also take effect as from 4 October 2023. Therefore, for a skilled worker, total visas fees are set to rise significantly, given that increases are planned for the IHS, the cost of assigning the certificate of sponsorship, and the visa application fee. It is important to note that these increases are primarily targeted at the migrant worker, rather than the sponsoring employer (save of course for the certificate assignment fee). It remains to be seen whether employers will choose to absorb these higher costs on behalf of their sponsored workers, or will instead look to offload the increased IHS and visa application fees on migrant workers – which may, in turn, deter some migrants from making skilled worker visa applications in the first place.
If you, or your prospective employee, require any assistance with applying for a UK visa, or you are an employer who would like our advice on clawback clauses, please contact our immigration team at [email protected].