Immigration solicitor Vina Madhavji considers the current position in relation to automatic visa extensions and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
The Prime Minister has confirmed at PMQs today that the Immigration Health Surcharge for front line workers will remain in place.
Under the current immigration system, ‘temporary non-EEA migrants’ and their dependants have to pay for access to the NHS.
A ‘temporary non-EEA migrant’ is someone who is a non-UK national who is not from an EEA country and who does not hold the status of indefinite leave to remain.
This means that ‘temporary non-EEA migrant’ front-line workers providing services within the NHS, within social care and within other front-line services have to pay to access to services in which they serve.
At present students are required to pay £300 a year to access the NHS and all other visa holders are required to pay £400 a year.
From 1st October 2020 students and those under 18 will be required to pay £470 a year to access the NHS; other visa holders will be required to pay £624 a year.
Automatic Visa Extensions for some categories of front-line worker but not others
In response to Covid-19, the Home Office has announced that certain categories of health workers (and their dependants) whose visas will expire on or before 1st October 2020 will receive free automatic visa extensions of 1 year; these workers will also have their immigration health surcharge extended for free for one year.
The full list of professions eligible for the automatic visa extensions can be found here and includes, medical practitioners, biological scientists, nurses, health professionals, social workers and therapy professionals.
However, the list of eligible professions excludes other key front-line workers such as transport professionals, administrative staff, and cleaners and porters working in NHS hospitals and care homes.
Furthermore, any front-line professional whose visa expires after 1st October 2020, and including the health care workers listed above will still have to pay for their visa extension and the immigration health surcharge.
Calls for Change
The PM advised at Parliamentary Questions today that the immigration health surcharge will remain in place. He said: “We must look at the realities… those contributions help us to raise about 900 million pounds and it is very difficult in the current circumstances to find alternate sources.”
Opposition leader Keir Starmer has confirmed in PMQ’s today that an amendment to the Immigration Bill will be tabled so as to exempt NHS workers and Care Workers from the Immigration Health Surcharge. There was however no mention of the proposed amendment to include other front line workers such as cleaners and porters in care homes and hospitals and transport professionals, who are also risking their lives to provide vital services to keep our country safe.
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