Visa regulations for the United States have undergone some major changes in the last few years. And it now looks like the United Kingdom isn't far behind as a UK visa for Indians as well as non-European Union citizens is set to become much costlier Tuesday, January 8, onwards.
The cost of the visa has increased as the British government has raised the immigration health surcharge (IHS), which is required to be paid when students, professionals and family members apply for the visa.
As per the new plan, the IHS will set an immigrant back by £400 instead of the current £200. Meanwhile, students and immigrants on the youth mobility scheme will have to pay a discounted amount of £300 each year.
"We can confirm that the Immigration Health Surcharge will be doubled on 8 January 2019. The surcharge will rise from £200 to £400 per year, with the discounted rate for students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme increasing from £150 to £300," a home office spokesperson told Hindustan Times.
"Migrants who make an application on or after January 8, 2019 will pay the new surcharge rate."
The IHS permits immigrants access to the National Health Service (NHS), and is not levied on immigrants who eventually attain a permanent residency status in the UK. The surcharge is also not applicable to certain sections such as asylum seekers and victims of modern slavery.
While the surcharge hike has been approved and comes into effect today, British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (Bapio) has opposed it and has even written to home secretary Sajid Javid voicing its concerns.
"We believe a further charge of £200 per head is unfair and discriminatory. NHS is finding it difficult to recruit and retain staff; such measures by the Home Office will further deter high quality international medical graduates to come and work for the NHS," HT quoted it as saying.
However, the home office believes that the surcharge is necessary as it offers affordable health care services to everyone.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes also said that the contribution is fair as people who come to the UK on a temporary basis can also access healthcare facilities because of these funds. She said that the additional funds will be invested in developing and maintaining the healthcare system in the nation