Fees and health surcharges paid by visa applicants, especially Indians, to the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) would be dramatically increased, according to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Though there has been no official confirmation from the government, sources indicate that the increase will be in the 15% to 20% range.

This change is intended to assist the country’s public sector salary hike, which includes teachers, police officers, young doctors, and other government employees. Sunak affirmed a 5 to 7% increase across the board. However, due to inflationary worries, he stated that the government will not rely on increasing borrowing to fund these costs. As a result, alternate funding sources would be explored.

“If we’re going to prioritise paying public sector workers more, that money has to come from somewhere else because I’m not prepared to put up people’s taxes and I don’t think it would be responsible or right to borrow more because that would just make inflation worse,” Sunak told reporters at a Downing Street press conference.

“So, what we have done are two things to find this money. The first is, we are going to increase the charges that we have for migrants who are coming to this country when they apply for visas and indeed something called the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is the levy that they pay to access the NHS,” he said.

“All of those fees are going to go up and that will raise over GBP 1 billion, so across the board visa application fees are going to go up significantly and similarly for the IHS,” he added. Sunak justified the action by claiming that the fees had not been raised in a long time. And stated that the increase is necessary because costs have escalated since the last hike.

According to FREETH, the government has acknowledged a 15% increase in employment and visa expenses. Every other visa charge will increase by at least 20%.

The immigration health surcharge, which was introduced in 2015 at £200 per application, has increased significantly. It more than doubled to £400 in 2018 and will rise to £624 in 2020 (£470 for discounted applicants). The government has recently announced a significant increase, raising the fee to £1,035 per person per year and raising the discounted rate to £776, respectively. FREETH also mentioned

Rising fees for migrants seeking work in the UK place a major financial burden on business owners that rely on foreign labour, particularly when compared to countries such as the United States or France, potentially increasing recruitment spending.

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