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Immigration health surcharge reimbursement scheme opens

by Rachel Carter
2 October 2020

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Overseas NHS and care workers can now claim their reimbursement of the immigration health surcharge (IHS).

Anyone holding a relevant visa, who has worked in health and social care continuously for at least six months and paid the surcharge, will be eligible for a reimbursement, the Government said.

The IHS allows non-European Economic Area nationals to access the NHS on broadly the same basis as UK residents, if they are seeking to work, study or join family in the UK for more than six months.

The reimbursement will be paid in six-month instalments and those eligible can apply online.

This comes after the BMA, Unison, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Physicians wrote a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson in June this year, asking him to confirm that all international health and care staff, and their families, would be exempt from the surcharge.

In August, the Government launched a ‘Tier 2 Health and Care visa’, which exempted eligible staff from paying the IHS. Under the reimbursement scheme, staff who are not covered by this visa, but have worked for the NHS or in the care sector since 31 March, will be able to claim back the surcharge.

Under current plans, the surcharge is expected to rise from £400 to £624 this month.

Rebecca Smith, managing director of NHS Employers, said the Government’s decision to exempt staff from the fee and reimburse whose who have paid it ‘demonstrated some recognition of the incredible contribution overseas staff make to the NHS’.

She added: ‘Now more than ever, we must show our gratitude for all our staff, including those from overseas, who have worked with dedication, fortitude and selflessness to care for our communities in one of the most challenging periods in our history.’

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We can now deliver on our promise as the reimbursement scheme will benefit those who have given so much this year to protect us all from Covid-19.

‘This will encourage overseas health and care workers to continue to come and work in the UK and help those already living here to provide first-class care and support for patients.’