Indians seeking UK visa will now have to shell out a lot more

  • UK visas just became costlier for Indians as well as several non-EU migrants, as the British government has doubled a surcharge to access its public health care system.
  • The current health care surcharge for a regular migrant is £200 a year, which has been raised to £400 a year under the new scheme.
  • For students under the Youth Mobility Scheme (Tier 5 visa), the IHS has been increased from £150 to £300.
  • The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) has opposed the move calling it ‘unfair and discriminatory.’
All UK visas with a validity of over six months are about to cost a lot more for Indians as well as non-EU migrants, following a decision by the British government to double the mandatory ‘Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).’

The health ‘surcharge’, which was rolled out in 2015, allows students and temporary workers to access the country’s subsidised public health care program, the National Health Service (NHS), during their stay, and is payable while submitting visa applications. The surcharge, however, won’t be due for migrants who have attained permanent residency.

Currently, the surcharge for a regular migrant is £200 a year, which has been raised to £400 a year. While for student visas under the Youth Mobility Scheme (Tier-5 visa), the same surcharge has been increased from £150 to £300. On an average, the cost for a general or family visa is nearly £92, while for a long-term visa may cost nearly £821, according to Times of India.

The British immigration office has said that the increased surcharge will prompt employers to hire ‘domestic’ workers before considering outside working professionals. It has argued that it is fair that immigrants pay extra to access its National Health Services program.

The UK is also reportedly planning to tighten immigration rules further, allowing immigration based only on skills and not nationality.

According to reports, the hike was approved despite some misgivings from the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), which has called the move ‘unfair and discriminatory.’

With this move, the UK becomes the latest country in the West to clamp down on immigration. The US President Donald Trump has also sought stricter screening for US visas. Two years ago, Australia also rehauled its immigration program, cutting the duration on its temporary work visas by two years.

See also:
India deports American journalist who was making an environmental documentary on a controversial copper smelter plant

Eliminating country quotas will make path to the permanent residency easier for Indians: US Congressional report

Myanmar introduces ‘visa-on-arrival’ for Indian travellers
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