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UNITED KINGDOM – Immigration Health Surcharge, New Fees and Rollout of Biometric Residence Permits

The immigration health surcharge, one of the key reforms of the Immigration Act 2014, will be introduced from 6 April 2015.

The government has also confirmed the new immigration and nationality application fees which will come into effect on 6 April, and has begun the rollout of Biometric Residence Permits to non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals.

Immigration Health Surcharge

Non-EEA nationals applying to come to the UK to work, study or join family members for more than six months will be required to pay an immigration health surcharge, one of the key reforms of the Immigration Act 2014.

This will also apply to non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay by six months or more.

The cost of the health surcharge will be £200 per year, and £150 per year for students. Dependents will be charged the same amount as the main applicant.

The health surcharge is a mandatory requirement. Individuals who have private healthcare paid for either by themselves or on their behalf by their employer, for example, will still be required to pay the surcharge.

Exemptions

  • Applicants under Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) and nationals of Australia and New Zealand are exempt from paying the immigration health surcharge.

It is important to note that these applicants will still need to complete the online surcharge process but will be informed the payment is nil. Applicants will receive a surcharge reference number which will be needed for their immigration application to confirm exemption from the surcharge.

  • Migrants applying for a UK visa of six months or less will also be exempt from paying the surcharge. Those applying to come to the UK on a Visitor visa will also be exempt, although from April 2015, non-EEA visitors who access NHS services will be charged 150% of the cost of their treatment.

Immigration and Nationality Fees 2015/16

The government has published the immigration and nationality fees for all applications made from outside and within the UK from 6 April 2015.

Tier 2 of the Points-Based System

There is an increase of £50 to applications made both within and outside the UK under the Tier 2 General and ICT (long term) categories, where a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) has been issued for a period of three years or less. The increase in these categories when a CoS has been issued for more than three years is £100

Applications made under the Tier 2 ICT - Short Term, Graduate Trainee and Skills Transfer categories, with a CoS that has been issued for a period of three years or less, will increase by £17, from £428 to £445.

The allocation of a Tier 2 CoS itself will rise by £15 to £199. There is no change to the fee for a Sponsor Licence application or renewal.

Tier 1

Tier 1 (Investor) sees large fee increases for applications made both in and out of the UK. In-country applications will rise to £1500, from £1093, whereas out of country applications increase by £626, also to £1500.

In sharp contrast, a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) initial application from within the UK cost almost half of the present fee – down from £656 to £281. Applications in this category made from outside the UK will also see the fee decrease to £281, from the current fee of £437.

Other Fees

From April 2015, postal applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) will cost £1500, almost 40% higher than the current fee of £1093. ILR applications made via premium processing will rise to £1,900 from £1,493.

The fee for naturalisation as a British citizen for an adult will rise to £1,005 from £906 and the fee for registration of a child as a British citizen will rise to £749 from £669.

Rollout of Biometric Residence Permits

The process of issuing Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) to non-EEA nationals travelling to the UK for more than six months started on 18 March 2015 with applications made in Pakistan.

The rollout will continue in three further phases from mid April (including China and India), 31 May (including Australia and the USA) and 31 July (the rest of the world).

Please see our recent news alert for more details on the Biometric Residence Permit system.

Action Items

  • From 6 April 2015, ensure all non-EEA assignees to the UK pay the immigration health surcharge before submitting their immigration applications, unless exempt.
  • Applicants from countries where the BRP initiative has already been implemented should bear in mind the short validity of the new travel vignette and the need to collect the final BRP post arrival when making their travel plans to the UK.

The information in this alert was provided by Dearson Winyard International.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.