Using the NHS? Not using the NHS? Either way, you need to pay.

Young woman having intravenous therapy06 April is a date that immigration lawyers look forward to with dread. It is the start of a new tax year, which is fine. But it is also a date when, traditionally, it is All Change at the Home Office.  New forms.  New fees. New rules….

This year, lots is happening on 06 April.  New English tests.  Massive changes to the appeal system. Changes to the visitor rules.  Oh, and the NHS now has to be paid for unless you are settled in this country.  Or if your application is under EU law.  Or if you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen.  Or if you are on Tier 2 (ICT).

As with so much to do with the Home Office, things aren’t set out terribly clearly.  It is clear that there will be an “immigration health surcharge” of £200 per year, or £150 per year if you are a student, and that this will need to be paid, for the whole length of the visa that you are applying for, at the time that you submit an application. It is clear that this applies to both applications made in the UK and applications made overseas.

What could have been made clearer, though, is exactly how this will work in the early days, while the system “beds in” – the Home Office guidance says that this applies to “applications where payment is made on or after the 6 April”  – so does this surcharge apply if you lodge your application in the UK before 06 April, but payment is taken from the card details you provide on the form after 06 April?  What if you book and pay for a premium appointment before 06 April, but your appointment is much later, so that you don’t actually submit your application until some weeks down the line?

As with so much else, we will just have to wait and see…