8 February 2016
New Zealanders and Australians were for a long time exempt from the requirement to pay any kind of surcharge for healthcare received while visiting or living in the UK due to reciprocal healthcare agreements, but from 6 April 2016 that will charge. In line with previous adjustments made in 2015, New Zealanders and Australians will now be required to pay a mandatory NHS health surcharge when they intend to spend more than six months in the UK. This applies to those wishing to join their British citizen or permanent resident partner in the UK on a settlement fiancée, de facto or spouse visa.
The first Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced in April 2015, and applied to all non-EEA nationals. At the time, this excluded nationals from New Zealand and Australia. This surcharge of £200 per year (£150 for students and people entering under the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS)) resulted in a large amount of money in a short time – more than £100 million in the first six months – being collected by the NHS for use within the system. On 4 February 2016 the UK Government announced that the surcharge would be extended to New Zealander and Australians wishing to visit or settle in the UK. As with other non-EEA nationals, the surcharge will apply to visa holders who are in the UK for more than six months. They will be required to pay £200 per year for each year they are in the country. Previously, New Zealanders and Australians were exempt from the surcharge for the first year of a multi-year stay.
The surcharge does not apply to non-EEA nationals who visit the UK for less than six months. It also does not apply to people who apply for a visitor visa. Those who enter the country on a visitor visa will still pay the full costs for any NHS treatment they receive while in the UK. People who pay the surcharge will be charged for certain services, such as prescriptions and dental care, just as permanent UK residents are. The exception, for New Zealanders and Australians, is for emergency healthcare that is required immediately, and cannot be put off until the individual returns to their home country.
The exact amount a visa applicant will pay depends on how long they stay in the country. Each partner or marriage visa applicant will pay £200 per year (or £150 in the case of students and YMS visitors), with two exceptions. A part-year of more than six months will incur the full £200 charge, but a part-year of less than six months will incur a charge of £100. For example, a stay of three years and 2 months would incur a total charge of £700. Surcharges must be paid at the time of application. If the surcharge is not paid the application will not be granted; similarly, it will be delayed if an incorrect amount is paid.