The IHS increase (Immigration Health Charge Amendment Order 2018) was approved by Parliament on 29 November 2018. This means that it will come into force on a date of the Government’s choosing on or after 19 December 2018. As long as you apply online by then, you will pay the old fee.
The Home Office have now announced that the Nationality Document Return Service and the Nationality Checking Service are both to be phased out by the end of December 2018. These are services provided by local authorities to assist applicants for citizenship mainly by witnessing copies of passports.
We assume that the reason behind this move is to facilitate applications being made through the new UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services Centres (UKVCAS) and the new “commercial partner” – Sopra Steria.
This allows applicants to apply online and then attend one of these new centres to enrol their biometric details and have their passports witnessed.
However so far (and it is only early yet) the new service has proved disappointing. Applicants have reported long delays at the new centres and difficulty obtaining an appointment.
As we currently understand it – the paper application form for citizenship will still be an option. This might be a good option in the next few weeks to avoid the new service and instead apply directly to the Home Office.
Hopefully the new service will be up and running more efficiently in due course.
November 2018 is the month when the Home Office will start to radically change how UK visa applications are submitted within the UK.
Up to now applicants could complete a paper form (or an online form in some categories) and either post the entire application pack to the Home Office or attend a same day appointment at a Home Office Premium Service Centre.
The new process will mean that nearly all applications will move to an online form only. This will allow applicants to complete the online form and then upload securely their supporting documents. This is a welcome development – allowing copies of documents to be provided online.
Then the applicant can either attend a biometric enrolment appointment for free and have their passport checked. Or there will be the option to attend a Premium Service Point to have the application processed quickly. This will involve an additional fee.
However, the lack of information before the new system is launched is worrying. There has been no advance notice of which applications will move to this online system at the time of launch or if it will be a phased introduction.
The fees for the Premium Service have not been published either.
Let’s hope for a smooth introduction to this radical application change.
The annual fee that migrants pay for access to the UK National Health Service will be doubled from December 2018 (exact date to be determined). The government have announced that the Immigrant Health Surcharge (IHS) will be increased from £200 to £400 per annum.
The IHS was first introduced in 2015 and is paid by all non EU migrants coming to the UK for more than 6 months. It is paid in advance at the point of visa application.
So, for example an applicant for a 5 year Ancestry visa would have previously paid £1,000. Now this is increased to £2,000.
And if that Ancestry visa applicant has a spouse and children then the fee is increased further – £2,000 per applicant !
We anticipate that many applicants will look to submit their visa applications before the increased IHS fee is introduced. The new fee will apply to first time applicants overseas and those seeking to extend their visas in the UK.
Those applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain do not need to pay the IHS fee.