The NHS relies on its overseas workforce. Our health system would simply collapse without international medical graduates.
Yet our colleagues who come from overseas pay an extortionate amount to be able to access the very NHS they work for.
For a family of 4 this charge, plus visa fees can easily top £10,000 a year. In the worst case scenario this has led to parents being split from their young families as they can not afford this fee to access healthcare.
This is against everything we stand for as NHS doctors. It’s deeply unfair and has made so many of our colleagues, who have stood shoulder to shoulder with us feel unwelcome in the country they call home.
After over 2 years of lobbying for the deeply unfair Immigration Health Surcharge to be scrapped DAUK’s letter was read at Prime Minister’s Questions by Keir Starmer. The Government u-turned within 24 hours and finally, finally the charge was scrapped.
But we didn’t stop, we pushed harder. To ensure dependents were included. We were granted that. To include other health and social care staff. We were granted that too. And finally, a reimbursement for those that were still having to pay the charge.
Today the Department of Health have just told us that IMGs will be eligible for a reimbursement of the IHS, backdated to May, the day when DAUK were able to get the charge scrapped.
How to make a claim
The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is paid at the point of visa application that enables access to the NHS for most non-EEA nationals applying for temporary leave to enter or remain in the UK.
In May, The Prime Minister announced that Health and Care staff would be exempt from the IHS and in August this year Home Office and DHSC launched the Health and Care Visa which exempted applicants from the IHS. The new reimbursement scheme covers staff such as cleaners, care workers and porters and their dependents who are outside the scope for the Health and Care Visa but who work in health and Social Care.
You are eligible if:
· you are a non-tier 2 visa holder who has paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (or had it paid for you);
· you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), or someone has paid the IHS for you; and
· you have worked in health or social care role for at least an average of 16 hours per week since 31 March 2020
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Can you claim for dependents?
Yes you can claim for any immigration health surcharge for dependents that you have paid for after 31st March 2020
Can you claim for reimbursement if you have paid in advance?
Yes, you can claim from today for the 6 month period from 31st March to 1st October 2020, you can then claim on 31st March 2020 for the current 6 month period, this can be repeated to reclaim anything you have paid in advance.
Those eligible can now apply online and access guidance on claiming the reimbursement, which will be paid in 6-month instalments.