LONDON: The United Kingdom (UK) government is set to double the immigration health surcharge (IHS) on 1 December 2018, making it even more expensive for South Africans to relocate. The surcharge allows anyone in the UK on a work, study or family visa for longer than 6 months to access the National Health Service (NHS) in the same way as UK citizens.
“While individual applicants for the UK’s increasingly popular ancestral visa are currently required to pay £1,000 (about R19,000) upfront to cover their 5-year settlement period, come 1 December 2018 they will need to fork out £2,000 (about R38,000) for the same IHS,” says Ryan Rennison, managing director of UK visa solutions experts, Move Up.
“This radical cost increase could be a barrier to South Africans being able to afford to immigrate to the UK,” he adds.
Rennison says the company has seen a 22% increase in South Africans interested in relocating to the UK over the past two years. He lists the strength of the pound sterling, access to cheaper travel opportunities, a high-functioning government and political stability as the main reasons South Africans cite for wanting to leave. Better job opportunities, increased earning potential and access to better education for children are other factors at play in most people’s decision to move.
UK Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, said that while the government welcomes long-term migrants using the NHS, it is a national, not international health service. According to Nokes it is right that immigrants make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability.
“The extra money raised will go directly towards sustaining and protecting our world-class health-care system,” she says.
To assist ancestral visa applicants to beat the IHS price hike, Move Up is offering an expedited service for ‘last minute’ cases lodged between 1 – 20 November 2018. Applicants specifically wanting to avoid the massive IHS price increase will be able to do so at a 40% higher case fee, while cases lodged up until 31 October will still fall under Move Up’s highly competitive standard rates. Applicants are also urged to try Move Up’s free birth certificate assessment to prevent delays around visa applications.
For more information regarding UK visa applications, visit www.moveup.co.za or call 021 761 4608.