On December 4th, 2023, the government announced its plans to cut net migration. “Immigration is too high. Today we’re taking radical action to bring it down,” stated PM Rishi Sunak.

The changes included amendments to the rules and requirements for Skilled Worker Visas, Family Visas and Health and Care Visas, amongst others. A full blog post about these changes can be found here. In addition to these measures, the government has unveiled plans to raise the annual Immigration Health Surcharge.


What is the IHS?

The Immigration Health Surcharge is a mandatory upfront fee that applicants for a UK visa are required to pay in addition to their visa and application fees. It was introduced on the 6th of April 2015, with the aim of ensuring that migrants make a financial contribution to the healthcare provided by the NHS. The fee is calculated on a per-year basis, depending on the duration of permission requested by the applicant. This charge grants applicants access to and use of the NHS throughout the validity of their visa, as much as necessary – there is no limit to how much one can use NHS services.

The fee typically applies to individuals applying for permission to enter the UK for 6 months or longer. It also extends to individuals making visa applications from within the UK for any length of time – with the exception of applications for indefinite leave to remain or to naturalise as a British citizen.


In addition to measures to reduce migration, the government has unveiled plans to raise the annual Immigration Health Surcharge from £624 to £1,035 – a substantial 66% increase. The government claims that this is to ensure that migrants coming to the UK make a ‘fair financial contribution,’ and to safeguard public services, such as the NHS, from potential exploitation.


The rise in Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is going to hit sponsor license holders and their recruitment efforts, especially those using common routes like Skilled Worker and GBM: Senior or Specialist Worker. This means the upcoming IHS increase, along with higher visa fees, will result in a much bigger expense. So, employers should think about adjusting their budgets for hiring and recruitment accordingly.

In order to avoid the higher charges, employers should submit upcoming applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK before the scheduled fee change. Moreover, employers might want to think about sponsoring applicants for the maximum immigration permission allowed in their circumstances to lock in the lower rate before it goes up.


United Kingdom Announces Immigration and Nationality Fee Increase (

Home Secretary unveils plan to cut net migration – GOV.UK (

Britain announces stricter visa measures to reduce net migration | Reuters

United Kingdom Announces Immigration and Nationality Fee Increase (

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