Court: bar set too high for NHS surcharge and visa fee waivers

Guardian: 21 May 2020 Tribunal says if migrants can prove they cannot pay fees then they should not have to do so

The Home Office asked the family to pay £7,665 in visa fees and the health surcharge, even though the family produced evidence to the court of having just one penny in their savings account. The Home Office said they did not meet the destitution test because a friend was giving them accommodation and they were getting basic support to survive from their church and a food bank. …
[…] The court ruled that the Home Office was applying the wrong test for whether or not people should have to pay thousands of pounds for their visas and NHS surcharge… Read more

What is the health surcharge? – here is the Government website: Health surcharge: Pay for UK healthcare as part of your immigration application

Overview: You might need to pay a healthcare surcharge (called the ‘immigration health surcharge’ or IHS) as part of your immigration application.

Whether you need to pay depends on the immigration status you’re applying for.

For immigration applications made from within the UK, you need to pay if:

  • you’re a national of a country outside the EEA
  • you’re making an immigration application for any length of time, including applications for 6 months or less (but you’re not applying to remain in the UK permanently)

More information about exceptions here:

Guardian: 16.5.2020 Home Office failure to scrap NHS migrant surcharge sparks anger

Priti Patel condemned for not permanently ending ‘absurd fee’ that was temporarily waived

“We have repeatedly called for the immigration health surcharge to be waived for nursing staff,” a spokesperson from the Royal College of Nursing said. “They are already contributing through taxes and national insurance – to ask them to pay twice is simply wrong.

Read more here

Huffington Post: Government U-Turns On NHS Surcharge For Overseas Health Workers

Boris Johnson bows to pressure on £624 fee as Labour’s Keir Starmer welcomes “a victory for common decency”.

[…] The government was due to hike the immigration health surcharge from £400 to £624 this October, but now says it will be scrapped as the Covid-19 crisis grips the NHS.

The sum had been payable to all overseas workers to use the NHS and from this autumn would have seen a family-of-four hit with a bill as high as £2,500 a year. 

Read more here

Guardian 22 May 2020: Calls to scrap ‘unfair’ NHS surcharge for all migrant workers

Unions and campaigners say government’s U-turn should be extended more widely

Unions and campaigners are calling on the government to extend the NHS surcharge waiver to all migrant workers, including teachers, bus drivers and charity workers.

It follows a policy U-turn on Thursday when Boris Johnson announced that overseas NHS staff and care workers would no longer have to pay the controversial fee of £400 a year, which is due to rise to £623 in October.

Immigration groups also asked the government for clarity over whether the shift in policy would mean the families of healthcare workers would also be exempt from the charge.

The U-turn came after the prime minister was put under pressure from his own MPs as well as the Labour leader, Kier Starmer.

Read more here

This is not a new problem … a little reminder – from the Guardian six months ago:

Calls to scrap ‘immoral’ NHS fee for foreign staff

Exclusive: medical associations say surcharge rise will worsen staffing crisis

Boris Johnson’s plans to charge foreign staff who help save British lives £625 a year to use the NHS will worsen its staffing crisis, doctors’ and nurses’ leaders have warned.

They have reacted with dismay over the prime minister’s proposal to increase the so-called health surcharge payable by non-EU staff for the third time in four years and demand it should be scrapped completely.

The Conservative party announced on Sunday it was going to increase the surcharge from £400 to £625 a year for all non-EU migrant workers and extend it to all EU citizens who migrate to the UK after Brexit.

The fee is payable for each member of a family migrating, meaning nurses from popular recruitment spots such as the Philippines and India who come to Britain with a spouse and two children will have to pay the government £2,500 a year for the privilege of working in the NHS.

Read more here