Snaid & Morris

Major Increase in UK Immigration Health Surcharge

On the 16th January 2024 the biggest single increase in the UK Immigration Health Surcharge came into force.


The rise amounts to a 66% increase from £624 to £1035 per year per adult, and from £470 to £776 per year per child under 18, students and Youth Mobility Scheme applicants.


The immigration health surcharge is payable upon the making of an application for a visa. The visas in question are primarily residential visas i.e. visas that allow one to reside and work in the United Kingdom. Some examples of this would be visas such as spousal and dependants’ visas. It is worthy to note that in terms of UK law a person is a child or a minor until the day they turn 18, so if an application is submitted before the 18th birthday, the child fees will be applicable.


Whilst this does make things very difficult for many South Africans wanting to perhaps apply for ancestral visas as, in an ancestral visa the applicant and i.e. the person who holds the ancestral link and the dependants all must pay immigration health surcharge, or for parties where one spouse is a British citizen, however the other spouse and the children are not. It is not all doom and gloom.


One only needs to look at the fact that the NHS which is what the immigration health surcharge pays for, in actual fact replaces private medical schemes, which could cost a family of four upwards of R20 000 per month. At an exchange rate, working of R25 to the pound, this equates to an annual figure of R25 875 per year per adult, or R2 156,25 per month and R19 400 per year per child, or R1 616.67 per month. This is far lower than most medical schemes are charging monthly.


Another shining light at the end of the tunnel is the fact that the immigration health surcharge is not applicable to health care workers or doctors. That means should a doctor or a nurse relocate to the United Kingdom, they will be exempt from the immigration health surcharge. Naturally non-medical professional dependants will still have to pay immigration health surcharge. Other medical professionals or health care workers are also exempt from the immigration health surcharge. We are able to check the eligibility for this exemption for our clients prior to making their applications.


It is also pertinent to remember that the UK has the lowest tax levels of the G7 nations and is also the fastest growing economy within the G7 nations and the European community, notwithstanding the fact that Brexit has already happened.


These increases, although painful, still leave the United Kingdom in a very favourable light to South Africa. The UK has a stable economy, although it is feeling its ups and downs as is every global economy, as well as a stable civil service. There is no utopia, but stability reigns and a relatively low crime rate are some of the things that make the UK an attraction to South Africans, not to mention the favourable time zone, as at most the UK is only two hours behind South Africa. English being the official language is also a huge attraction, as is the ease of setting up and running a business.


A very good public or private school system also exists in the UK. Most of the public schools are free to children who have right to remain in the United Kingdom. Granted this free public schooling is only for primary and secondary education and does not extend to tertiary education. However, children of a parent who is there on an ancestral visa are deemed to be domicile, and so are children who have spent sufficient time living there and who have completed either the primary or secondary phase of schooling, which means they are eligible for substantial discounts on university fees.


All this together makes the UK a bright and shining option for South Africans looking to path a better future for themselves and their families. The UK skills shortage is massive and the opportunities for skilled workers and professionals are endless. Whether you are an employed professional, artisan or a business person wanting to start your own business or expand to the UK, or just somebody with UK ties looking for a better future for yourself and your family, our highly skilled UK immigration and investment law team based in Johannesburg, together with our associates in London, are eager to assist you and will do everything possible to make your dreams a reality.


For any immigration enquiries, please contact emigration@snaidmorris.co.za or call our offices in Johannesburg on 011 678 4562.


Jason Morris
Head of UK Emigration and Investment Law